Teaching right and wrong – making it fun

My son dressed as Pinocchio

My son in the Pinocchio costume I made him last fall

Teaching your kids right from wrong starts with your own actions. But it’s also worth talking over with your little ones.

Quite by accident, I found the perfect book to help illustrate the point and get a conversation going.

I had started to introduce the concept of right and wrong to my three-year-old son by telling him when he’d made a good choice or a bad choice. But I could plainly see it didn’t mean much to him. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, this book opened up the conversation and made him want to learn more.

Pinocchio was one of my favorite characters when I was a kid, so of course we have the book to read to our kids (I had also made a Pinocchio costume for my son for last Halloween). In the story, when the Blue Fairy brings Pinocchio to life, she tells him he must prove himself to be brave, truthful, and unselfish. And he must also learn to choose between right and wrong.

Yesterday, when I read that line, my little guy looks at me and says, “What’s right and wrong Mommy?”

We then spent the morning trying to come up with situations that require a choice to illustrate the concept.

“Let’s say we’re having dinner at a friend’s house, and you don’t like what they’ve served. Do you say you don’t like it, or do you just thank them for a nice dinner?” And so on.

He enjoyed the scenarios so much that he kept saying, “Another one!” until I couldn’t think of any more. Then he started to make them up, too. (In every situation he made up, he was eating and there was a hungry kid nearby whom he would choose to offer some food.)

Back to Pinocchio’s story.

Pinocchio makes some really poor choices and learns there are consequences for his actions. They’re not really consequences your child might face, but they do illustrate the point pretty well:

He talks to some sly strangers and ends up being sold to a puppeteer and locked in a cage. He then lies about it and grows a long nose. Then he skips school again at a stranger’s urging and winds up growing a donkey tail and ears. In the end he redeems himself, of course.

What about you? How do you introduce the concept of right and wrong to your child?

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