Thomas Lickona, PhD (Professor Emeritus of Education, Director, Center for the Fourth and Fifth Rs (Respect and Responsibility), State University of New York at Cortland), explains how to institute “character-based discipline” as a feature of moral education to encourage kindness and respect in children at #AskTheExperts webinar “The Golden Rule: Cultivating Kindness and Character Online” on June 15, 2022.

[Dr. Thomas Lickona] And what about when kids are not kind? Here I recommend what I call “character-based discipline.” Insisting on kindness and respect in all family interactions, just not parent-child, but among siblings as well. And then if anyone violates that norm, “What’s the fair consequence for speaking disrespectfully?” Kids get a reminder, but there has to be a consequence and they can have voice in that as well. Parents should model this when they have arguments. They should show that they are able to make up and move on. They also by how they talk about people outside the family. That sets an example as well. When we correct heartful actions we need to do so with clarity and also feeling. So they have to teach right and wrong clearly, but with feeling. We want kids to know their hurtful action is wrong, but also to feel that it’s wrong, we want them also to be able to make amends. Correction shouldn’t end with kids feeling bad. The next question is “What can you do to make up for it?” There are all kinds of options, but it’s really important that kids learn to do something positive, to set things right. And that should include the opportunity for empathy and kindness as well. Real responsibilities – I even brought up chores. I agree that kids should have a voice, but they certainly should have family responsibilities. Otherwise, we find ourselves raising entitled kids like the boy who said, “Why should I mow the lawn? It’s not my lawn.” And there’s research showing that kids who have meaningful jobs in the family have a greater concern for people beyond the family. Here’s a great website of a mother in Canada with ten kids, and she’s got a Saturday morning system for chores that I think has lots of good tips.

View the full webinar

Ask the Experts—Webinar

The Golden Rule: Cultivating Kindness and Character Online

How can we help children develop moral character and values such as kindness and compassion online and offline?

Character Development
Civic Engagement
Social Media
Social Relationships