Unethical Behavior Among Children
There is clear evidence that parents can and do influence children. There is equally clear evidence that children’s genetic makeup affects their own behavioral characteristics, and also influences the way they are treated by their parents.
Cheating, deception, organizational misconduct, and many other forms of unethical behavior are among the greatest challenges in today’s society. As frequently painted by the media, extreme cases and costly scams are common. Yet, even more recurrent and pervasive are cases of ‘ordinary’ unethical behavior — unethical actions committed by people who value and care about morality but behave unethically when faced with an opportunity to cheat.
In a morally corrupt world, education remains the sole rescue anchor to guide the new generation towards a rehabilitation of moral values. All those studies which have followed moral reasoning have highlighted the importance of moral reasoning in daily life but also in the professional career, the certainty that moral reasoning is deeply connected to the academic preparation level and the importance of teachers as role models able to inspire values and moral principles.
WHY CHILDREN KILL
Society underestimates the extent of emotional anguish children experience. History has taught us that the ability to kill has no age. The key question that continues to boggle minds is why children as young as seven years old and those in adolescence kill. Associated with school violence is teenagers being violent towards teachers, even killing or attempting to kill them, due to the continuous violence meted out by the adults through corporal punishment, verbal abuse and name calling of learners.
Picture a group of children bursting into laughter from and older person’s demeaning utterances to a child.
The outcome is severe emotional scars that adolescents, in particular, find hard to recover from. While abusive utterances ends when the period is over, person’s words ring over and over in the victim’s mind, causing severe emotional distress. In severe cases, the young person finds relief in a fatal action towards the person, or another child who may repeat the person’s utterances.
In understanding children who display aggression and ultimately kill, one should not ignore the child’s family background. Society underestimates the extent of the emotional anguish children experience due to parental neglect.
WAYS TO CHANGE A CHILD’S ‘BAD’ BEHAVIOR
- Teach them how to recover from mistakes
Instead of shaming a child or insulting their character, ask the child whether they were their best self. Then help them repair the harm. Model what it means to take responsibility and make amends. If your child is weak on accountability, look at your behavior. Kids are human sponges” —they’ll soak up and acquire both your good and bad habits. Any consequence should be logical and restorative.
- Borrow tactics from negotiation
In both negotiation and parenting, you need to pick your battles, Win-win in negotiation is about giving the other person as much as you can while still getting what you care about. “Never say, ‘This is my last offer,’ unless it really is. Parents lose credibility if they don’t follow through on a threat.” Thinking about your child’s interest rather than their position is also important. Their position might be that they want more screen time, but their interest could relate to a desire to belong, which you could address in other ways. If parents want to change a behavior, they have to understand its purpose. Otherwise, they will probably come up with an intervention that lacks staying power.
- Talk above their age or maturity level
Children are more likely to behave when parents convey that they trust them and have high expectations. The very thing that’s missing is what you should give away — respect and authority. Parents should invite their child’s perspective on complex moral and ethical issues, ask them questions that are slightly above their age, and assign them difficult tasks that align with their interests. So many kids feel essentially disrespected because no one gives them anything important to do. Kids are demanding respect, and if we don’t give it to them, they’re not going to give it to us.
- Be intentional with vocal tone and language
Parents should use “task tone” to eliminate unhelpful emotionality and make requests or suggestions feel more manageable. The vocal tone is described as focused, steady and directive, “not shouting like a drill sergeant.” The words you choose are equally important, avoid lecturing, and pose open-ended questions. You might ask, “Why did you cuss at your teacher?” “If your child responds, ‘I was mad,’ follow up with, ‘What are some other ways you could deal with your anger?”
- Help them connect their emotions to behavior
To help your child self-regulate, explain that feelings are tied to behavior.
- Examine unmet expectations
Gather information from your child about why they are having difficulty meeting expectations. We adults are famous for thinking we know what’s going on, imposing solutions, and getting mad at the kid when the solutions don’t work. Parents may fear they’re relinquishing authority and lowering expectations, but neither is true. Behaviors are only the tip of the iceberg. “For each child, you need to go under the waterline and address the causes through relational safety, human connection and warmth. Kids want to do well and will do well if they can.”