Behavior

Some people assert that society should be more concerned about moral behavior than moral reasoning. Children demonstrate prosocial and moral behavior when they share, help, cooperate, communicate sympathy, and otherwise demonstrate their ability to care about others and the community. Ideally, these behaviors are performed without the expectation of reward, as reflected in the later stages of moral reasoning. Moral behavior, however, often provides good feelings, kinship, and interconnection with others. The frequency and type of moral or prosocial behavior vary with the frequency and type of moral reasoning, the child's emotional development, the child's gender, and situational factors, including culture and religion. Human respect, concepts of success, and beliefs fostered by family and peers, as well as negative sanctions, are also related to the frequency of prosocial and antisocial behavior.

Children's ability to restrain unacceptable behavior begins to improve in toddlerhood. Children between the ages of seven and eleven, however, regard allegiance to peers as more important than cultural rules, so they often say that they would cheat, lie, or steal to help a friend in need. It is clear that children think about and make choices concerning morality and that peers have a great influence on moral behavior.

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