Young adolescents can be a time of trouble. There are plenty of disturbing indicators to prove this, including incessant order of frustration, suicide, violence, peer cruelty, and substance abuse. We also see a growing increase in disrespect for authority, disobedience, obscenity, deception, and dishonesty.
We have been relentless in our efforts to bring about change. But one area that is often overlooked in all of our interventions is the moral intelligence of young adolescents. Moral intelligence consists of personal, social, emotional, sensory and moral skills that form a strong character and guide moral behaviour. It is the ability to understand right to wrong. It means having strong moral beliefs and working on them so that they behave properly and respectfully. Ethical intelligence is what a young teenager should do right in order to resist negative pressures and with or without adult guidance.
Enhancing moral intelligence may be our best hope. The latest research confirms that strong moral character can be learned and how it can enhance the socio-social behaviour of our students and replace negative ones. However, teachers are not the strongest moral trainers for their students, parents. These seven parenting myths are especially deadly for children’s moral IQ:
Myth1:Moral Intelligence Develops Naturally
One thing is for sure: children are not born with moral intelligence. Ethical IQ learned! The best school for learning critical habits of hard character is always at home. Parents often assume that these habits develop naturally: and this is a big misconception. To ensure that children acquire strong moral habits and beliefs, parents must be taught the qualities and habits that intentionally incorporate moral IQ. If they don’t, there is a chance that their children will not achieve them and they will remain morally defenceless.
Myth2:How Kids Turn Out Is All In The Genes:
Most of us would agree that there is something “given” that we can’t change about our kids like their genetic makeup and their innate mood. Even they are not bound by stones. Research verifies this. A 72-pair study of genetically related adolescents found that their biological predispositions may be stimulated or that their parents may suffocate depending on how they reacted. The bottom line: Biology is not luck if parents understand that a good thing about how children become depends on how they treat their children. If children are treated ethically and are intentionally taught moral skills and beliefs, researchers say they are more likely to become moral. But the first critical step is for parents to understand the difference between how they can introduce their children.
Myth3:Moral Beliefs Are First Set By Teenagers
Research confirms that moral development is an ongoing process that will extend over the life of our children. In fact, the current study suggests that the part of the brain where the conscience is formed does not fully develop in men until the age of 21. Adolescent years are when children need the guidance of adults about the most rigorous moral choices. So parents mistakenly believe that the moral development of their children has stopped when the efforts of moral formation must continue and not stop in those teenage years.
Myth4:Peers Influence Children’s Morals More Than Parents.
A number of studies from the American Academy of Paediatrics have reported that while peers have a lot of moral influence, parents still influence their children’s morals, which are important in matters such as religion, education and values. The Pierce effect deals more with everyday topics such as children’s entertainment, music and clothing choices. Parents must understand that their children must have an internal track of moral development because they can have the closest relationship if they choose to nurture it. The bottom line: If parents allow them, co-workers will have a greater moral impact. And today’s parents can’t afford to make that mistake.
Myth5:Intelligent Children Become Morally Intelligent.
Intelligence does not guarantee moral conduct. If you need proof, just think of brilliant leaders like Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, who were also evil. If parents want to succeed in raising moral children, they must help their children not only to think morally but also to act morally. And that means their kids need to learn intentionally critical ethical IQ skills such as resolving conflicts, empathizing, managing anger, discussing freely, using self-control, etc.
Myth6:Moral Growth Begins At School Age.
A common mistake parents make is waiting until their kids are 6 or 7- the so-called Age of Reason-to build their moral IQ. By then poor moral habits have formed and are so much harder to break. The fact is parents can start enhancing kids’ moral growth when they are toddlers. Although at that age they certainly don’t have the cognitive capacities to handle complex moral reasoning, that’s when the rudiments of moral habits-such as exercising self-control, being fair, showing respect, sharing, and empathizing are first acquired. So the earlier parents begin cultivating their kids’ moral capabilities the better the chance they have of raising good moral beings.
Myth7:The Previous Generations Didn’t Build Kids’ Moral IQ, so parents today shouldn’t have to:
Today’s kids are being raised in a much more morally toxic atmosphere than previous generations for two reasons. First, a number of critical social factors that nurture moral character are slowly disintegrating: adult supervision, models of moral behaviour, spiritual or religious training, meaningful adult relationships, personalized schools, clear national values, community support, stability, and adequate parents. Second, our kids are being steadily bombarded with outside messages that go against the values we are trying to instil. Both factors make it much harder for parents to raise moral kids.
Today’s parents can no longer sit back and take their children for granted. Deliberately teaching moral virtues and habits that make up a strong moral IQ is the best assurance that their parents will lead a moral life. Their first step is dispelling seven deadly myths so that their children do not build morality out.
Check the moral IQ of a young teenager
Here is a quiz to check how well your adolescent is building this essential moral IQ that he/she will need to live with ethics in his or her troubles today.
The Young Teenager (without adult reminders or coxing) regularly:
Answer with yes or no
If you check less than 8 “yes”, it means that the moral IQ of young adolescents can be somewhat encouraging. And the best news is this intelligence can be taught. It never starts too soon – or too late.
Step-by-step planning of the ethical intelligence department
Regardless of who has the greatest moral impact, follow the following step-by-step plan to teach all teens the seven important qualities needed to do the right thing and resist any pressure that can negate good character habits:
Support – Identification and feelings with other person’s concerns.
Step 1: Feather awareness and a sensitive vocabulary.
Step 2: Increase sensitivity to other people’s feelings.
Step 3: Develop empathy for the other person’s point of view.
Consideration – Knowing the right and decent way to act in that way.
Step 1: Create context for moral development.
Step 2: Strengthen your conscience and guide your behaviour
Step 3: Maintain moral discipline to help children learn right from wrong.
Self-control – Controls your thoughts and actions so that you stop and be right from the inside or the outside and act exactly the way you know and feel.
Step 1: Prioritize self-control over the model and your child.
Step 2: Encourage your child to be self-motivated.
Step 3: Think before you act on how to deal with your child’s temptations.
Respect – Showing your worth by treating others with courtesy and consideration.
Step 1: It means respect through modelling and teaching.
Step 2: Increase respect for authority and rudeness.
Step 3: Emphasize good manners and courtesy – they count!
Kindness – Anxiety about the well-being and feelings of others.
Step 1: Teach the meaning and value of generosity.
Step 2: Establish zero tolerance for intelligence and disgust.
Step 3: Encourage kindness and point out its positive effects.
TOLERANCE – Respecting the dignity and rights of all persons, even those beliefs behaviours we many disagree with:
Step 1: Model and nurture tolerance from an early age.
Step 2: Instil an appreciation for diversity.
Step 3: Counter stereotypes and do not tolerate prejudice.
FAIRNESS – Choosing to be open-minded and to act in a just and fairway:
Step 1: Treat your kids fairly.
Step 2: Help your child learn to behave fairly.
Step 3: Teach your child ways to stand.