Ethical Behavior: How to teach your children

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Ethical Behavior is one of the most important subjects you can teach your children. It’s not just about doing the right thing – it’s about teaching them the right thing to do and helping them make good choices in the future. Today, we’ll discuss the different stages of ethical development, the benefits of ethical teaching, and tips for implementing an ethical learning environment.

Ethical Behavior
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

What is Ethical Behaviour?

Ethical behavior is the practice of carrying out actions per the ethical principles set by a society or culture.

Most societies accept these five ethical principles: 

  • Respect for others
  • Beneficence (doing good)
  • Non-Maleficence (or not harming)
  • Justice
  • Prudence.

Though it’s not possible to teach everyone about these principles, it is possible to teach them about some specific aspects of ethical behavior. 

For example, 

Teaching students about respect for others may involve teaching them how to behave when interacting with people. It may be being polite and respectful, not gossiping or spreading rumors, and not using offensive language.

Teaching students about beneficence may involve ensuring that the resources they use are fair and equitable for everyone involved. It may entail teaching them how to recycle and upcycle materials or donating money to charity instead of buying products from brands that abuse workers overseas.

Non-Maleficence refers to the principle of no harm. It includes not spreading viruses, not attacking or injuring other creatures without justification, and not harming the environment in any way.

Justice ensures everyone has an equal chance at getting what they deserve, whether in terms of material possessions or opportunities. It may be to teach students about equal opportunity or the idea that everyone should get a fair chance to achieve their goals without discrimination.

Prudence involves making sound decisions not to harm oneself or others. It may include knowing how to budget wisely and avoid overspending, choosing healthy foods instead of junk food, and using safe practices when engaging in physical activity outdoors (like hiking).

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Different stages of ethical development

Ethical behavior is essential for healthy development. As children grow and develop, they go through different stages in their ethical development.

The cognitive ethic stage is the earliest and occurs between ages 6 and 12. Children learn to associate right and wrong behavior with positive and negative outcomes. They also start to develop a conscience, which means they understand the consequences of their actions.

The emotional ethic stage is the next stage, which occurs between ages 12 and 18. During this stage, children start to develop a sense of empathy and understand how their emotions impact their behavior.

Finally, the adult ethical stage occurs between ages 18 and 25. Children learn to make ethical decisions based on principles rather than emotions. 

So, by teaching your children about ethical development at different stages, you can help them grow into responsible and ethical adults.

The benefits of ethical teaching

Ethical teaching has many benefits that make it an essential part of education. It,

– Helps students to develop empathy and understand other people’s perspectives.

– Teaches them how to think critically and solve problems.

– Reinforces good values and morals, such as honesty, respect, and fairness.

– Prepares students for future careers that may involve working with others or dealing with complex ethical issues.

How to teach ethical behavior to children?

There are a few different ways to do this, and the most important thing is to ensure you’re using age-appropriate concepts and strategies.

Some of the best methods for ethics training for children include:

  • Roleplaying situations where people must make tough choices.

    (for example, playing the role of a doctor who has to choose between treating a patient or saving lives by refusing treatment). 

  • Encouraging children to think about how their actions will affect other people.

    (for example, asking them to imagine how they would feel if someone treated them poorly). 

  • Teaching them about values, morals, and misconduct as part of ethics classes.

    (for example, telling them about the Golden Rule and exposing them to good and bad behavior examples). 

  • Also, share specific skills to help them act ethically and build professionalism to become better at business ethics.

    (for example, teaching them how to negotiate or handle difficult conversations).

Here are some famous quotes by Philosopher Socrates

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”

— Philosopher Socrates

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

— Philosopher Socrates

Tips for implementing an ethical learning environment

Children learn best when they have a healthy environment in which to learn. As a parent or teacher, it’s your responsibility to create an ethical learning environment for your children. Here are some tips that will help you achieve this:

1. Start by modeling ethical behavior yourself. It will help your children learn to associate ethical values with their behavior.

2. Talk to your children about different aspects of the world and how they work – this will help them develop a critical understanding of the world around them.

3. Help your children develop healthy relationships with others – teach them to be Conflict Resolution Agents.

4. Finally, keep an open dialogue with your kids – let them know if you see any signs that their ethical learning environment is beginning to erode.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do children need to be taught about ethical behavior?

The answer to this question is somewhat subjective. Some people believe that children need to be taught about ethical behavior, while others think that it’s something that they naturally develop over time.

There are a few reasons why teaching children about ethical behavior may be beneficial. For example, it can help them develop empathy and understanding for others and the world around them. 

It can also give them a strong sense of moral responsibility, which is vital in later life when they face difficult decisions.

On the other hand, some people believe that teaching children about ethical behavior can hinder their development. They may feel uncomfortable or awkward discussing these topics with their children, which could lead to less moral education overall.
Ultimately, whether or not to teach children about ethical behavior is up to the parents or guardians.

Can ethical behavior be taught?

There is no surefire answer to this question, as it depends on some factors like the individual’s personality and upbringing. However, there are some ways in which we can teach ethical behavior.

One way is by having children learn about ethical principles early in their education. It will help them develop a sturdy moral compass and make good decisions. It will also help them understand the consequences of their actions and why it’s important to follow norms.

Another way is through exposure to responsible media. Though this may not be effective for everybody, it will impact positively on people at risk of developing unethical behavior. By watching movies or TV shows that feature characters who act ethically, for example, they may start to see the world in a more positive light and develop an appreciation for ethical values.

Ethics education at school is a must, with detailed ethics courses, and teachers must assign articles to read on ethics. It will help young people be ethical in their actions and thoughts. Over time, teaching ethics to children will develop their reasoning and morality, ultimately making them ethical leaders.


Ethical behavior is an important life skill that every child should learn. By teaching them about the importance of ethical behavior, you are setting a robust foundation for their future. 

Use the different stages of ethical development outlined in this blog to implement an ethical learning environment.

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