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Stages of Conscience Development
stages of normal development. Some children do not
move through stages within the time frames described
below. Others seem to regress to Shame during
adolescence. Attachment disordered children are often
stuck in Pleasure/Pain.
child does what brings him pleasure and
avoids what brings him pain. The child has
no inner moral code, and no awareness of
other?s feelings or needs. This stage is
typical of children under the age of three.
Children with attachment disorder are often
I misbehave long enough, people will give
up and I can do whatever I want.
not my friend if you don?t take my blame.
child feels bad when criticized or punished.
The child feels shame. By apologizing,
asking forgiveness, distracting behaviors,
or a wide range of other coping skills, the
child will focus on eradicating the feeling
of shame, but not on changing the behavior
that led to the feeling.
a child will stick to one strategy for
making the shame go away, whether it is
effective or not. At this point in
development, the child is not likely to be
focused on the effects of his behavior on
others. This stage is typical of children
age 3 to 7.
the age of 5, children don?t understand the
concept of possession. Normal kids may not
understand stealing until the age of 9.
in this stage want the parent?s approval,
but once they are out of your sight that?s
not enough to sustain them.
did something wrong and I want to make the
shame go away.
I think you?re watching, I?ll behave.
child wants to live in a way that brings
pleasure to himself and others. When the
child hurts others, they see the effects of
their behavior on on the other party, feel
guilt, attempt to make amends, and change
their behavior. The child tries to find
another way to meet his needs without
hurting others. Under good conditions, this
stage is typical of children age 7 to 11.
honest and able to accept blame.
would happen if everyone took things?
Environmental Conditions for Emotional
relatively stable, predictable environment
in which the child knows how to get their
environment in which the child can be
stopped from hurting themselves and others.
sense of being loved as a person, even after
environment in which punishment or reward is
based on the child?s behavior rather than
the moods of adults.
Modified on: Saturday, August 08, 2009
Techniques for Each Stage of Conscience
infants and toddlers in pleasure/pain who
have little awareness of expectations,
consequences, or other?s needs, our
discipline approaches need to be based on:
environments to reduce tension.
misbehaviors to be acted upon.
on action and distraction rather than
requests or orders.
use of timeouts after misbehavior.
recommended for attachment disordered
use of praise and rewards and other
minor misbehaviors when possible.
young children who have some, but not
enough, awareness of expectations and
other?s needs, our discipline approaches
need to be based on:
of expectations and needs of others.
in order to make amends in addition to
a sense of empathy through constant
discussion of emotional needs of others.
of logical and natural consequences to
correct misbehaviors rather than
praise for proper decisions made by
invectives, surprise rewards, and
tangible rewards to reinforce specific
children and adolescents benefit when the
important adults in their lives encourage
feelings and typical reactions to
The effects of their behaviors on
problems by looking at options and the
consequences that might result.
expectations that the child regulate his
Behavioral consequences to actions, yet
avoiding the tendency to over-punish.
to continue to reinforce expected
are often the inner pleasure the child
receives by meeting expectations.
Older Children and Teens in Pleasure/Pain,
Add the Following Recommendations:
environment with clear, predictable
structure in which there are immediate
positive and negative consequences for
wanted and unwanted behaviors.
short published list of rules that the child
has signed and dated.
rewards and consequences to behaviors are
determined by the adult and the youth.
who act rather than react. It may be a waste
of time and energy to tell the child to do
something or not to do something if the
adult is not prepared to follow up with
who will protect themselves by limiting the
power the child has over them.
who will find others to support their
self-esteem, get away regularly, and not let
the child provoke battles in adult
Addition to Basic Behavior Modification,
Effective Approaches for Working With a
Child Stuck in Shame Include:
restitution to the person harmed by their
must prepare for the child?s efforts to make
them feel guilty for the punishment.
descriptive, specific praise frequently.
with the child?s misbehaviors before the
adult gets angry.
how the adult feels from how the child
feels. The child may be unhappy, but the
adult doesn?t have to be.
about feelings only when the level of
conflict is low; otherwise focus on
Methods Based on Conscience Development for
Period of Shame)
apologies accepted. Restitution determined by
victim and adult.
and restitution. Child chooses restitution,
approved by adult.
and restitution. Be sure child doesn?t allow
himself to be overpunished.
of rules signed and dated.
of rules signed and dated.
list of rules, as they are unnecessary; child
law and no grace.
and 2 warnings.
to be guilty
or may not be believed. May have to prove
need to know consequences in advance. Use known
or unknown logical consequences.
to know what consequences will be ahead of time.
Use logical consequences, but may get time off
for good behavior.
need to know ahead of time. May not need imposed
consequences at all.