Lauren Gurican Child Psychology How Do Children Develop Morals How do children develop a sense of morality? Are morals objective or subjective? Are they universal or circumstantial? Moral development occurs in stages. The first level of moral development according to Kohlburg is called the pre-conventional level. At this level, a child’s concept of morality is very concrete, and they think of right and wrong in terms of rewards and punishments. Their reasoning is limited to the immediate here and now, and their decisions are based upon the instinctual desire of pleasure seeking and pain avoidance because they are intellectually unable to take others into consideration. As a child grows and their reasoning abilities mature they begin to realize that others have thoughts and feelings too; and that the needs and wants of others are just as important as their own. The idea of fairness becomes a huge deal to children in this stage and they begin interacting with others in terms of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” (Boeree. Moral Development.). This level of development is universal to everyone because it is not significantly influenced by
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