5 Ways to Teach Your Kids the Difference Between Right and Wrong

Published: May 16, 2023
5 Ways to Teach Your Kids the Difference Between Right and Wrong

Morality is a hard trait to come by, especially for those not knowledgeable in the Word of God. By exemplifying morality to your children, finding them a mentor, and limiting screen time, you can instill moral values that not only help them make good choices but become well-adjusted adults.

Parents carry a lot of responsibility when it comes to raising children. They do everything they can to raise emotionally whole and well-adjusted individuals. A critical element of emotional wellness is having a good moral background. This helps raise kids who know the difference between right and wrong, and morality also keeps order and stability within society. In today's world, kids are bombarded with messages from many different sources that can confuse them. They have hundreds of TV channels, books, songs to download, and social media platforms to try. All these things give them messages that are contrary to morality. So how does a parent teach your child about morality? Here are five ways to do that: 

1. Be the Example

Believe it or not, you are your children's most important model of morality. Children live what they learn. Watching parents act contrary to the Word of God can cause some great confusion as to what is right and what is wrong. It also sends the message the parents can do whatever they want. Integrity is being a good person when no one is looking. The best way to teach your children integrity and a good sense of right and wrong is within the four walls of your home. Model going the extra mile; you're doing the right thing even if it costs. This lesson will not be taught in school but will stick with them for the rest of their lives.  

It's not only important to be a good example for your children to establish a good moral background, but it is also important to demonstrate the example of what Jesus looks like to them. How they interact with Jesus as a child is the same way they will interact with Jesus as an adult. The more you demonstrate what Jesus was like and incorporate scripture into everyday life, the better your children will have in their daily lives as they grow. Although no one is perfect in their relationship with their children or with Jesus, it is best to do what you can to demonstrate the love and grace Jesus demonstrated both on the cross and here on earth.  

2. Pray with Them

God must be a part of the equation when it comes to understanding morality. If there is no God, truth is subjective, and children are deceived into believing they can only do what is right for them. Praying together as a family will help them understand God's will for their lives. God wants his children to live upright and holy lives. You want someone to display Christ-like character and uphold the moral law. When kids are confused, it is wise for parents to teach their children that God is always there with them and will guide and direct them to do the right thing no matter what.  

3. Read the Word

The Bible is the ultimate authority when it comes to morality. The Bible is not only the love letter from God to his people; it helps them understand God's law. Morality helps them understand sin and know that sinning without repentance will hinder their relationship with God. The more they read and memorize the Word, the better moral background they will have. Kids are lost today and have lost hope there is anything stable in the world. The Word of God is and always will be the authoritative Word on who God is, what he does, and what he has done for us. By providing the Word of God, God helps his children understand the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that draw away from him but also the ones that bring us closer to him. Being a good moral person will only help us draw closer to God; reading the Word is a major part of that. 

Part of establishing morality is also knowing when the ethics in a situation is too difficult to determine. Sometimes, a situation happens, and you don't know what to do about it. Helping your kids navigate the ambiguity of morality is equally important as knowing exactly what to do. Kids need to grow from knowing everything to knowing where to turn in their confusion. Kids that are confused and found proven wrong in a moral situation are more than likely to turn to peers or other untrustworthy sources rather than the Word of God. This can be detrimental to their life and their moral background as well.  

4. Provide Mentors 

We were never meant to do life alone. However, it is easy to become ostracized from others in the world. This is not God's intention for his people. The disciples went out to do the work of the Kingdom two by two. Even God exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Allowing your child to have a good role model in a mentor would help guide them in their understanding of what living a righteous life may look like. In our tumultuous world, it's good not only to foster community and provide good, healthy friendships but also to allow them to have accountability partners and pray for them when they are struggling.  

Mentorship starts in churches. As your child grows, pinpoint a person who might be a good leader for them. Ask that person to be a mentor to your child. Allow them to shadow them often and ask questions when appropriate. Allow your child to ask the mentor questions about anything in life. As they grow up, they may turn to their mentor for sage advice instead of turning to others. This will also help them establish a good sense of morality as they can turn to someone who they know can give them advice when they're unsure what to do in a situation.  

Although it may be difficult to determine who a good mentor might be to your child, here are some characteristics that would qualify someone as a good mentor:

-Regular church attendance

-Reads the Word regularly

-Interested in investing in the lives of others

-Demonstrates integrity 

5. Limit Screen Time

One of the biggest deterrents to kids establishing a good moral background is the excessive use of television, movies, and cell phones. Children are bombarded by advertisements and programming that's anything but moral. The overarching sentiment of most of these programs is rebellion, independence, and the ability to follow your heart. These are all sentiments that God abhors. The Israelites spent their time in rebellion, wanting to live independently of God. The Lord allowed them to give in to their carnal desires, and nothing but death and destruction resulted. It was not until they repented and returned their lives to God that He blessed their efforts. Your children cannot live good moral lives if they are bent on independence and rebellion. Limit the amount of time they're hearing these messages; it is less likely that they've become desensitized to them.  

Morality is a hard trait to come by, especially for those not knowledgeable in the Word of God. By exemplifying morality to your children, finding them a mentor, and limiting screen time, you can instill moral values that not only help them make good choices but become well-adjusted adults.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/gradyreese

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.