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Ethics for tweens

NYSEC Ethics programs for tweens and teens

Ethics and your tween

In an article by Denise Oliveri ( , she advices that you ensure that your tween understands that “good work ethics are necessary for success in life.” She goes on to say that tweens of today are often characterized as being spoiled and lazy, irresponsible and difficult to manage.

Children must be taught good ethics from the time they are young, so that by the time they are tweens, it will not be so hard to encourage them to be well-respected individuals. They must be taught ethics; they will not learn it by osmosis.

Parents can teach good ethics by setting up a chore schedule (mow the lawn, do dishes, pick up clothes, clean room, for example). Rewards for good work include allowance or privileges such as more computer time.

School ethics are also important. Regular homework times before privileges will teach responsibility. Tweens need to learn to manage their time. Parents can model this behavior and refrain from “not handing him everything on a silver platter.”

Michael Josephson (, Los Angeles founder of “Character Counts,” talks about the fact that “ethics – being a good person and doing the right thing – is easier said than done.” We deal with ethics everywhere. Often, Josephson says, our wants and desires overcome our intentions toward honor and virtue. It takes a lot of effort to keep from the occasional lie or cheating.

Rose Garrett, in, says parents want to believe their kids can make the right decisions ethically, but it is not so simple. Unfortunately, many teens believe that it is necessary to lie, cheat, plagiarize or behave violently “in some instances to succeed “(Cynthia Hofmann, communications director for Junior Achievement Worldwide). They rationalize unethical moves by saying they are “right” according to the circumstances. Hofmann says the problem is that tweens and teens are not exposed to ethical situations that demand their decision-making. She suggests questioning kids about how ethics specifically affects their lives.

Richard Lerner, Ph.D., Director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, He has written a book about cultivating ethics called The Good Teen: Rescuing Adolescence from the Myths of the Storm and Stress Years.

Some suggestions for parents include the following:

  1. Practice what you preach.
  2. Keep it real. Keep sense of perspective and humor.
  3. Make it matter and provide times for tween to make own decisions.
  4. Get busy, encouraging kids to join school boards, organizations or religious institutions.

In What Will Matter, ( Michael Josephson comments about The Struggle Between Wants and Shoulds. Josephson is a “full time ethicist,” and believes that “being a good person and doing the right thing – is easier said than done.” As adults, we struggle with decisions that push our limits of honor and integrity. We need to “fill that hole,” so that we don’t lie or cheat. Josephson offers classes and workshops in Los Angeles.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and there is nothing wrong with making mistakes. When the mistakes in judgment take over our lives, it is time to stop, look, and listen to our hearts. That’s the lesson we need to pass on to our kids.

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