Do children follow rules and show respect because they are punished or they simply obey due to some moral reasoning within them? Do they follow rules simply in order to reap rewards?
Children at the age of 4-10 years obey rules simply to avoid punishment. Sometimes it is “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” conforming to rules out of self-interest and for what others can do for them. Children at this stage always feel obligated to obey adult rules; to them an act is bad if it will elicit punishment.
However, by the time they have reached 10-13 years, children will have internalized standards to some extent.
They are now able to take the roles of authority figures well enough to decide whether some actions are ‘good’ by their own standards. Now they want to be considered ‘good’ by those whose opinions count. They now embrace and understand respect. They treat others the way they would like to be treated. Children can help in judging the intentions of others; and they develop their own ideas regarding the definition of a good person.
According to Mr. Jean Sebatakane a father of three and the Managing Director of Goel Christian Book Store “ My children follow rules because of fear of punishment and the rewards I give them; I think this is because their mind is not yet fully grown to be able to internalize the moral values”
Mr. Sebatakane explains that even the Bible recommends punishment to a child as the only way to make them realize the wrong they have done. It’s important for parents to realize that their children, due to their brain development should not be pushed to figuring out why some things have to be done the way they are done; but they should be made to realize what is to be done in the right way at the right age.
When this is done good morals are enhanced and bad behavior is eradicated and through this practice, children internalize the morals as they grow up.