Loving by Leading: Your Child’s Conscience

NOVEMBER 18, 2019

In this blog series on parenting, we have learned that children are naturally prone to be self-centered and impulsive. So, now you might ask, “How do I teach my child to adopt proper attitudes and behaviors?”

Every person has a conscience. Conscience is defined as “the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action.” It is a warning system that alerts us to wrong and confirms what is right. It is the moral compass by which we are guided. This internal sense of right and wrong exists as early as infancy, but merely at seed level. When properly nurtured, however, it can become a powerful force for good to moderate a child’s self-centered nature. The conscience counters a child’s nature, reminding him that he is not alone and he must be considerate of others around him. With proper training, the conscience persuades a child to resist selfish temptation and to pursue a life of high moral and social character.

How then does a parent train and develop the conscience to eventually guide a child toward noble living? This occurs through three basic types of parent-child interaction:

  1. Behavioral control is the earliest influence a parent has over a young child. By correcting improper behavior, the parent identi­fies to the child wrong behavior, and by allowing proper behavior, teaches what is right.

  2. Reasoning (dialogue and explanation) becomes operational as a child matures, by informing and convincing a child’s understand­ing of right and wrong. This can begin, to a limited degree, as early as 2 years of age.

  3. Modeling proper behavior by the parents is essential in con­vincing a child from birth through childhood of what is right.


Trumbull, DA. Loving by Leading: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy and Responsible Children. 2018; pp 26-27. ISBN 9781732659810

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