We all want to know that when our child ends up in a jam someday, he'll make the right ethical decision. Would it surprise you to know that the good and bad news about moral courage is that your child's behavior in difficult ethical situations depends mostly on you?
Not on what you say, or drill into your child. Those discussions are important so that kids clearly understand what's right and wrong and why we make certain choices. But they aren't what matters most in what kids actually do.
Research confirms what we observe daily: most humans don't always do what they know is right. Integrity cannot be taught. Whether your son or daughter will summon up the internal fortitude to do what's right will depend on who he or she is as a person, and that, luckily, you can impact tremendously.
In fact, the little test below can accurately predict your child's behavior. And -- you guessed it -- it isn't even about your child. It's about you.
Is it hard to believe that this test can predict your child's behavior? Researchers confirm that children learn what we do, not what we say.
So the first part of helping your child develop moral courage is to develop your own.
The second, of course, is paying attention to all the teachable moments.
And the third is remembering that kids develop courage along with maturity, over time. Don't take it too hard when your child doesn't display the behavior you'd like. Just having a parent who thinks about these things is taking her in the right direction. Give her time.
Dr. Laura Markham