Instill a moral compass and encourage your teen to use it.

Helping Teens Develop a Moral Compass

by Kathryn Hatter

A compass enables you to determine which way you face by looking at the arrow on the face of the device. Similarly, a moral compass helps one determine the direction headed by using specific core values instilled as the inner compass. By helping a teenager develop a strong moral compass, you give your teen the ability to make positive decisions that will keep the teen moving in the right direction.

1. Teach Moral Intelligence

As you teach your child the difference between right and wrong throughout childhood, you are teaching ongoing lessons about morality. Gradually, you will instill morals and ethics about honesty, integrity, respect, compassion and perseverance into your child and the goal is for your child to adopt these morals and ethics as his own. Once this happens, your child has developed a conscience, which should serve as the internal moral compass, according to the Forever Families website published by Brigham Young University.

2. Model Moral Behavior

Part of the process of instilling morals and values in a teenager involves not only talking about, but showing it as well. Although your words can be effective for explaining an issue or concept, your example often reaps far more powerful effects. Live out your morals and ethics for your child to see during the formative years, and around the middle-childhood years your child will begin formulating personal opinions about which morals to accept and which ones to reject, states pediatrician and author William Sears, with the Ask Dr. Sears website. By the teen years, the morals you have proven to be important and valuable should be present in your teen’s conscience.

3. Promoting Compliance

Once you instill these important values in your teenager, promoting compliance will be the next step. Encouraging children and teens to respect authority and follow social rules that govern behavior is integral for a child’s overall success, advises professor David Popenoe, with Rutgers University. You may be more effective in getting a teenager to comply by engaging in meaningful dialogue that explains expectations and encourages a child to comply because of the child’s desire to act in a mature manner.

4. Correcting Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes in conduct, including teenagers trying to adopt and live by a moral compass. By approaching a mistake calmly and logically, you can teach your teenager effective lessons about cause and effect and consequences, suggests social worker Janet Lehman, with the Empowering Parents website. Natural or logical consequences often work well with teenagers because many teenagers have a keen eye for logic. For example, if your teenager borrows something from someone and loses it, the logical consequence involves apologizing and replacing the lost item to make amends.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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