Moral Intelligence is what helps youth act right with or without our guidance, and the best news is that this critical intelligence can be nurtured, modeled, reinforced and taught. Here are my 10 reasons why we must build our students’ Moral IQ and recognize our children must have hearts as well as minds!
1. Nurtures Good Character
The foundation to good character–or “moral intelligence”–consists of seven core virtues: empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, and fairness. These ultimately form our children’s character and are the principles they’ll use to direct the course of their lives long after we are gone. Building Moral IQ is our best hope that kids will have the foundation to good, solid character.
2. Teaches How Think and Act Right
In these troubling times, parents need to know ways to help their kids learn to not only think morally but also act morally. After all, the true measure of character rests in our actions–not in mere thoughts. Moral Intelligence teaches the specific moral habits that will get our kids on the right course so that they do act as well as think right.
3. Moral IQ Is Not Guaranteed
Moral IQ is learned, though developing it is far from guaranteed. To ensure kids acquire it, we must intentionally model, nurture, reinforce, and teach it. If we don’t the result is tragic: an increase in insensitivity, dishonesty, aggression, incivility, cruelty, hatred, and injustice. We must be deliberate.
4. Protects Against Toxicity
The truth is toxic influences are so entrenched in our culture that shielding kids from them is almost impossible. That’s why it’s crucial to build Moral IQ. It will serve as their moral compass so they have deep-seated convictions to stand by their choices and counter any pressures from inside or outside that go against the principles of good character.
5. Teaches Critical Life Skills
Moral IQ is comprised of the skills needed to protect kids’ moral lives such as resolving conflicts, empathizing, knowing right from wrong, asserting themselves, controlling anger, learning tolerance, negotiating fairly, communicating respectfully, cooperating, using self control, sharing, and knowing right from wrong. These skills are needed in all life arenas, and especially in today’s troubled world.
6. Creates Good Citizens
It’s important to remember that the most important measure of a nation is not its gross national product, its technological genius, or its military might. It is the character of its people. Moral intelligence consists of seven timeless virtues that are the bedrock of good citizenship and responsible living.
7. Counters Temptations
Moral Intelligence gives kids the power to counter outside and inside vices so that they do what’s right. It’s what helps them navigate through the ethical challenges and pressures they will inevitably face throughout life and choose the right moral choices so they do act right with or without adult guidance.
8. Prevents Violence and Cruelty
Of the 26 wealthiest countries, our youth are the most violent. And peer cruelty is rising. Yet we continue to erect metal detectors and hire guards to “protect” students from themselves. The best protection is fortifying them with Moral IQ and to teach three core virtues that lay the foundation for nonviolence: empathy, conscience, and self-control. Without them, kids become time bombs just waiting for explode. We can’t afford not to build their Moral Intelligence: it’s our best hope.
9. Inspires Good Behavior
Moral IQ is comprised of the essential moral virtues needed to help our kids become decent, caring, and respectful. These seven virtues become a template for creating our kids’ character, guiding their actions, and ultimately defining their reputations as caring, good human beings.
10. Shapes Moral Destinies
Moral growth is an ongoing process that will span the course of our children’s lifetimes. But the habits and beliefs of Moral Intelligence we instill in our kids now will become their ethical foundation they’ll use forever. It is what will greatly decide our children’s moral destinies and will be our greatest legacy.
Those are my top ten reasons why we must educate our children for their hearts as well as their minds. What are yours?
For more about specific tips, research and proven strategies to build children’s moral IQ and character, refer to my book Building Moral Intelligence: Seven Essential Virtues That Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing by Jossey Bass.