A child grows through a set of developmental components and they all correlate to each other pretty well. Like if one wants to study child development he/ she does not need to go through and ascertain all the parameters of child growth to determine whether the child is growing normally or not? Moral development is a big chunk and if this is studied in detail it can give a pretty good idea of a child’s mental, physical, social, and psychological growth and moral development is a well-known and important one of those. It is a set of appropriate attitudes and behaviors to distinguish wrong from right and act appropriately towards society following social and cultural norms. To discuss this concept I have taken help from an article that is a very good guide to study this parameter. In this article (Laurence 1033-1048) moral development/moral reasoning which is an important aspect of cognitive development of children has been studied very thoroughly with evidence-based explanations from the work of many psychologists based on the theories designed for studying moral development in children. Moral development is a process of development and it continues the whole life it is not fixed learning that would not change same as all the other components of growth. The ability of moral reasoning can even present one-eighty angle differently at different occasions depending on a sudden shift in the living circumstances of a living being. To ascertain who can help a child grow morally better is primarily the age of the child, then the parents, and then comes the society. There are different views about this development like Freud claims that “the quality of the relationship the child has with his/her parent/s greatly affects the way the child develops morally” (Yahoo answers, 2008).
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This research study addressed “the polarization among theoretical perspectives in moral psychology regarding the relative significance of parents and peers in children’s developing moral maturity. The quality of parents’ and friends’ verbal interactions, ego functioning, and level of moral reasoning in these discussions was used to predict the rate of children’s moral reasoning development over a 4-year longitudinal interval. Results revealed that interactions with both parents and peers were predictive of children’s development but these two types of relationships influence development in rather different ways. Implications of the findings for the understanding of these socialization agents’ roles in moral development are also discussed in this research article”.(Laurence 1033-1048). If it is a child in an age where he/she has newly gone out of the home he/she will feel more comfortable with his/her parents than peers but if a child of age 10-16 years is interviewed who has already got enough exposure to the society will feel more comfortable with peers as is the case with this study as well. In this research study, we see that children of age 10-16 years have been interviewed and their responses show that in terms of operational moral reasoning they are good with peers but for representational ones, they are more comfortable with their parents. The representational component is an outcome of foundational knowledge which works in every matter but operational is the one learned from exposure to society or is learned out of the competitive life with peers. Similarly, gender is the most important factor affecting moral development, girls perceive and interpret things differently than boys so taking only boys as study subjects will not be a representative sample of that age.
The method of conducting this research study is very good in some aspects like, the sample size is good, the duration of conduction of the study is great and the way responses are recorded is also appropriate. In child peer conversation sessions the factor of whether they are made to talk with the same gender or opposite one also affects the outcome. Moral development is the kind of growth that is composed of more of one’s internal feelings and thoughts and that can not be expressed fully. For example, as Freud says “The child wishes to have his opposite-sex parent all to itself and feels jealous and hostile towards the same-sex parent. This is the Oedipus/Electra conflict. To deal with these hostile feelings and avoid punishment, the child develops the superego through identification with the parent of the same sex. They take on the parent’s characteristics, thereby identifying with society’s norm. Lastly, the children turn the hostile feelings towards themselves, which leads to guilt each time the superego is ignored, and the child follows their id impulses.”( Deigh, pp. 207-225). This study has rightly demarcated the “types of moral learning like operational, representational, informative, supportive, interfering and miscellaneous”. (Laurence 1033-1048). For someone to have moral reasoning one has to have a sound knowledge of their social, cultural, ritual, and religious norms. One also has to have a sound knowledge of the laws, roles, and regulations in that society.
- Lawrence J. Walker, Karl H. Hennig and Tobias Krettenauer. Parents and Peer Contexts for children’s moral reasoning development. Child development Rev 2000; 71: 1033–1048
- John Deigh. Remarks on Some Difficulties in Freud’s Theory of Moral Development. (1994). Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 11:207-225.
- “Moral Development.” Encyclopedia of Children’s Health. Ed. Kristine Krapp and Jeffrey Wilson. Gale Cengage, 2005. eNotes.com.
- Yahoo answers. What is your understanding of Moral Development as it Relates to children?. Resolved questions. Web.