Explaining justice to children

Surely, as a mother or father, you have heard your child say on many occasions that something “is not fair.” This statement may be related to the fact that they are not allowed to do something they want or have something they want, but as they grow, this perception can be applied to other more complex situations that not only have to do with them, but with others.

Various studies have been conducted that seek to answer this question. The studies of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg about the moral development of the human being, help us to understand a little the answer to this question:
Both concluded that the way in which ideas develop in the child about the concept of good and evil, right and wrong, is a complex process that involves cognitive processes, experiences and emotional growth.


According to Piaget:
Children from 5 to 9 years old (Heteronomous stage). Piaget names this heteronomous stage, since, for children of this age, their behavior is marked by the exterior:
• Accept that all rules are created by authority figures like their parents, teachers, and God.
• They believe that the rules cannot be changed.
• They do not take into account the intention or the reasons that motivated a certain event. Therefore, a large amount of damage, even if done accidentally, is worse than a small amount of damage done deliberately.
• They think that the guilty are always punished, even in the long term.
Children from 10 years old (Autonomous stage). At this age children already realize that:
• There is no absolute good and bad
• Morality (the good and the bad) depends on the intentions, not the consequences.
• They realize that the rules are agreements that can be modified and that they can be broken to meet human needs, therefore, their way of thinking is more similar to that of adults.
• In this stage, moral feelings such as compassion or altruism arise, which have to do with considering a specific situation of the other as a step for the application of the rules.
• The child from 9 to 10 years old develops the ability to perceive the rules from the point of view of other people

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