Raising a Moral Child
April 13, 2014
The New York Times has a fascinating story by Adam Grant on “Raising a Moral Child.”
[Full disclosure: I have never raised a child. But I have been a child, so I have some familiarity with the topic.]
The discussion of what kind of incentives work on children is fascinating, particularly the warning to not use tangible rewards if you want the child to develop an internal moral compass.
American parents stress achievement, and thus raise children who might be less compassionate compared to the rest of the world, whose parents by contrast stress kindness and empathy. Having grown up most of my early years overseas, I can verify that there is something substantially different about the natural generosity and openness of people around the world, particularly very very poor people with whom I have spent time.
Are we so busy gearing our kids up for competition that we fail to develop their natural sociability? I love living in a high achieving society with all the benefits that brings. But we should be aware that there may be a psychological price to pay for that that is difficult to understand or to change.
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