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Nurturing Conscience in Children Description
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Tragic stories of indifference in young people--from adolescents going on a destructive rampage in their high school to the first grader who purposefully murders a classmate--have occupied the attention of many Americans over the last few years. Each of us is challenged to rethink how our children are being raised in a hectic world. One of the most important outcomes of a loving relationship between parent and child is the acquisition of a healthy conscience and a commitment to compassion toward others. The failure of a child to achieve these outomes puts all of us and our loved ones at risk.

The development of conscience, the capacity for self-control and the feeling of obligation to act responsibly, begins at the moment a child is born. The first three years of life are critical for the development of fertile ground that will allow conscience to mature over a person's lifetime. What matters during these early years is the child's experience of love with at least one human being whose devotion serves as an invitation to grow up humane. Children who are treated with cruel indifference during this time are at risk for not developing a conscience later, regardless of how caring others may be. The first five years of life, especially the first three, provide us with a critical window of opportunity that must be opened for a child to care about himself and the welfare of others.

If you are interested in learning more about this issue, visit our Caringworks page (under Courses). Consider joinging the listserv if you would like to explore this issue with others from around the United States.

Nurturing Conscience in Children will involve two complimentary activities. First, a variety of public speaking programs directed to parents, professionals, and children will be offered by its creator, Dr. Charles A. Smith. These programs can be found on the Programs page. Second, material is now available for use by program leaders who are working within the framework of Basic Parenting.

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Author Informationhttp://www.ksu.edu/wwparent/programs/conscience/con-prog.htm-- Revised: May 25, 2001
Copyright © 1996-2001 Charles A. Smith. All rights reserved.