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Rights and wrong with your toddler

Right and Wrong

It is their parents a toddler looks up to when unsure about something. Its their parents to tell them that is ok to play with the toy in the waiting room of the clinic; it is the parents who tell who prod them to say thank you to their aunty for the new shoes; it is their parents who remind them to say good bye to their neighbor when leaving for school. According to research, young children are motivated to behave morally by self-interest and fear of negative consequences. In the next stage moral behavior is based on a desire for approval, a respect for higher authority and an understanding for the maintenance of social order. It is not until the teen years does true sensitivity to the needs of others or a real concept of justice and fairness develop. Just because it is too soon to expect consistent ethical behavior from your toddler doesn't imply that its too soon to start imparting such values; if you wait until your child is old enough to understand the philosophy of right and wrong, you have waited too long.

Explain that actions have consequences:

While it is important to tell your toddler it is wrong to throw the block at his friend, it is also important to add the reason why it is wrong. While it is important to tell your toddler that it is right to wait for your turn instead of pushing through the queue, it is also important to add why it is right. Developing empathy is key to developing a conscience.

Don't lecture or preach:

A simple explanation will do. And remember, you are here to guide and not to judge.

Ask the right questions:

Involve your toddler from the start in his own moral education; stimulate thinking about the consequences of actions. When you have read a book on morals, explain in your own simple way so that your toddler can understand. Ask for your toddler's point of view when a character in a story or program has done something obviously right or wrong.

Fault behavior not people:

Don't shame your toddler or make her feel bad or inadequate for failing to do something right; criticize the behavior not the child. Guide your toddler to evaluate the behavior of others as well.

Set a conscientious example:

An ounce of example vastly outweighs a pound of instruction; let your conscience be your toddler's guide for the time being. Eventually your child will develop a conscience of her own.

The Extras

Promoting your child's Physical Development

Although he may still be wobbly on his feet, he will continue to acquire new skills over the next few years to enable him to become master of his home and outdoor environment.

• Let your child go for short walks without his pushchair. Give him freedom to wander but supervise him closely.

• Take him to safe open spaces. Play chasing games, racing games.

• Teach him to bend his knees or pick things up; let him practise kicking and throwing a ball.

• Encourage your child to learn to jump by dancing to music with him.

• Encourage your child to climb slides; climbing enhances his control over his movements and help in his balance.


Hand-eye coordination is involved in a lot of the physical skills that your child needs to learn. She will be able to use her hands and fingers when her manipulative skills improve; she will learn to build bricks, turn the pages of the book, drawing, writing, combing her own hair and using the spoon and fork. These skills have to be learned so it is important to give your toddler the opportunity to practice them over and over.

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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