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the evergreen boughs and sprinklings with holy water; the stories and figures in stained-glass windows; the candles and statues of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus—all these become part of children’s experience. Parents should bring their young children with them to church to learn from its art, architecture, ritual, and people.leArning to mAke morAl JuDgmentsThe physical reality of reward and punishment usually motivates preschoolers. Theirs is a concrete world of sense impressions. The deliciousness of an ice cream cone or the lonely feeling of going to one’s room to cool off will motivate young children’schoices about how to act.With the emergence of their concrete thinking,first graders awaken to a sense of self that often makes them incredibly self-centered. They willfight to get the biggest cookie for themselves or trample to be first in line. Me, me, me. This stage of development does not mean this younger generation has no potential for becoming self-giving Christians some day. They have to become selves before they have selves to give in loving relationships.Typically, self-satisfaction motivates the moral judgment of a five- or six-year-old. What the self gets will be primary in making moral choices. This stage of moral development represents a back- scratching, trade-off kind of moral reasoning. A child will share if he or she gets something in return: “I’ll give you some of my milkshake if I can play1. Deal with problems appropriately. When dealing with discipline problems, determine whether the infraction involves a moral issue or a social convention, and deal with the situation accordingly. If a moral issue is involved, be sure to talk with the child so that she understands the reasons her actions were wrong, lead the child to consider that the other person also has a perspective, and help the child decide how to right the wrong. Use reasoning rather than punishment. “I’m sorry” should be spoken onlyfrom the child’s heart, never upon command.2. Allow children to experience moral conflict. Schedule large blocks of free play time so that children may experience natural moral conflicts and practice working out their solutions.3. Discuss moral dilemmas. Select stories involving moral dilemmasBy Sandra Crosser, Ph.D.and talk about the perspectives of the various characters. Emphasize that people make mistakes. We are not always good or always bad.4. Encourage children to changethe rules. When playing a favorite game, encourage children to change the rules. Play the game in different ways, emphasizing that—if all the players agree—it is OK to change the rules.5. Involve children in making some classroom rules. Emphasize what is good for the group. Avoid having children decide on punishments because they will most likely prefer harsh, unrealistic punishments that do nothing to change behavior.6. Encourage dramatic play and role playing. Dramatic play and role play enable children to stand in another person’s shoes and promote the development of perspective-taking.7. Explore the concept of intention and motive. Use stories and puppet skits. Discuss the characters’ motivations. Did Goldilocks try to break the Little Bear’s chair? Why did it break? How did Little Bear feel? What could Goldilocks do to help Little Bear feel better?8. Praise moral behavior. Make it a point to comment on the helpful nature of an act that promotes or assists other individuals within the group. Praise children for putting the needs of the group aheadof their own needs. Recognize children for being kind, fair, and helpful.9. Use real dilemmas. Use real dilemmas and concrete classroom situations to discuss moral issues. Avoid the use of fables and maxims as they are too abstract for young children to comprehend fully.How to Help CHildRen develop moRal tHougHt and aCtion11

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