At What Age Can a Child Know Right From Wrong?
As early as age 2 or 3, children can already know or feel the difference between right and wrong. How does this happen and what’s our role as parents when it comes to helping them understand fairness, justice and good behaviour?
First, it’s important to understand the heavy influence of the environment. We’re not only talking about how the home looks like. We’re also talking about what children see and hear. It’s also about what they encounter and what they interact with daily.
At what age can a child know right from wrong
It’s a lifelong process and journey but it can start as early as age 2 or 3. After all, we adults are still learning what’s right and what’s wrong and often our standards change through the years. But how did we learn all that and recognised the difference?
Most likely it’s a sum total of our experiences. In our early years we might have just picked good behaviours from our early examples (which are our parents and other people we spend much time with). We’re starting from a blank slate which is why our early experiences and examples rush in to fill the paper. As we get older, we become more discerning on which actions to emulate because our experiences and thinking have expanded.
Due to our children’s limited experience, most likely they only imitate what they see. This means we have a serious responsibility as parents when it comes to guiding them. In other words, our own behaviours and responses shape what our children think and how they recognise right from wrong. As they see good behaviours that show fairness and justice, they learn to build their expectations about the world and how other people will behave towards them (as well as how our children will respond to other people’s actions).
Becoming excellent examples is much more effective than rewarding or punishing certain behaviours. Children are making associations and building their expectations each moment and even while they’re asleep (their brains are always busy forming neural connections). This seems then that we don’t have much control about what happens but in fact, we can initiate and heavily influence the process.
We can accomplish this by becoming great role models and making sure they’re in an environment where fairness, justice and cooperation are the everyday things. Keep in mind though that the results will be far from perfect. There will still be mistakes and those unexplainable behaviours which you wonder where your child got them. Good thing is that with your proper guidance and example, your child can still be on the right track when sensing right from wrong.