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Without relying on didactic theory, sermonizing, or abstract philosophy, Dr. Borba offers a new way to understand, evaluate, and ...
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Without relying on didactic theory, sermonizing, or abstract philosophy, Dr. Borba offers a new way to understand, evaluate, and inspire our kids with the seven essential virtues that comprise moral intelligence: empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, and fairness. Building Moral Intelligence gives parents and teachers practical self-tests for measuring their kids' status and progress and includes helpful step-by-step guidelines. The book is also filled with wonderful activities for adults and children to do together while learning the challenges and blessings of moral intelligence. These detailed, hands-on activities include a range of projects that will appeal to kids from three to fifteen. For example, parents can teach lessons about conflict resolution to their preschool kids and social justice to their teens. Also included are a handy book discussion guide and recommendations for hundreds of books and videos that can boost a child's Moral IQ.
This indispensable book confronts head-on the widely feared crisis our society faces regarding youth violence, intolerance, lack of compassion, and the breakdown of values-and motivates and inspires parents to make that extra effort to teach their kids what's right.
There is a clear and pressing crisis in today's society, one that involves our most cherished possession: our children. Everyone agrees there is a problem; lawmakers, doctors, clergy, businesspeople, educators, parents, and the general public alike have voiced their concerns. And concerned we all should be. Each day's news adds to a growing litany of shocking tragedies and statistics about American kids, and they've left us shaken, deeply worried, and in search of answers.
By far our biggest worry is youth violence, and that alone should warrant a national declaration of emergency. Although the hard data on youth crime and violence show a recent decline, there is little cause for comfort: the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that the United States has the highest youth homicide and suicide rates among the twenty-six wealthiest nations in the world. In fact, our kids are ten times more likely to commit murder than comparably aged youths in Canada. Perhaps most disturbing is that our killers are getting younger and younger. As I write, this week a six-year-old intentionally suffocated her three-year-old brother with the help of her five-year-old friend. Just months earlier, a six-year-old boy settled a schoolyard score by killing his first-grade classmate with a .32 semiautomatic. Each incident is unthinkable, yet others equally horrifying follow.
Thereare other signs that stir our national conscience as well. Peer cruelty is steadily increasing: an estimated 160,000 children each day miss school for fear of being picked on by their peers, and, considering the accessibility of weapons, the potential for physical injury is high. Other disturbing indicators include substance abuse among younger kids; the growing disrespect for parents, teachers, and other legitimate authority figures; the rise of incivility; the increase of vulgarity; and widespread cheating and commonplace dishonesty. A recent national survey of 10,000 high school students revealed that nearly half admit they stole something from a store in the previous year; one in four said they would lie to get a job; and seven in ten admitted to cheating on an exam within the previous twelve months. Heavy alcohol and drug use is increasing among our younger kids: recent studies found 22 percent of fifth graders have been drunk at least once, and the average age at which a child first uses marijuana is twelve. In two decades, the number of diagnoses of hyperactivity and attention deficits has risen 700 percent. In the last four decades, adolescent suicide in our country has increased 300 percent, and depression has risen 1,000 percent. These statistics are especially frightening when you consider that in one survey, over one-half of American teenagers reported they can get a gun in an hour and one in four high school students say they took a weapon to school at least once in the past year. Our kids are troubled and our crises continues.
These episodes and statistics distress us, of course, and as a nation we are reacting in alarm: school officials have installed metal detectors and sophisticated cameras to heighten security; moms marched on Washington for stricter gun control; the president of the United States called for emergency summit meetings of congressional leaders; some parents have started charter schools, while others have opted for home schooling; lawmakers passed laws to prosecute juveniles as adults, and the courts sentenced them as such. We've tried an endless variety of educational strategies as well: teachers have taught self-esteem and conflict resolution skills, and counselors have addressed social skills and anger management. Individual states have implemented retention policies, lowered class sizes, and boosted academic standards. Psychologists have even developed complete new theories: Howard Gardner revolutionized our understanding of children's cognitive capacities with his view of multiple intelligences, as Daniel Goleman did in transforming our awareness of emotional intelligence.
Despite our frantic efforts, however, the crisis remains, and we know so because our children are still hurting. That's because we have missed one critical piece: the moral side of our children's lives. It is moral strength that kids need most to keep their ethical bearings in this often morally toxic world. Moral issues haven't been completely overlooked: the work of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg has helped us understand the stages of children's moral reasoning; William Bennett provided literature anthologies to cultivate kids' moral imaginations; William Kilpatrick's book Why Johnny Can't Tell Right from Wrong, offered ways to engage our youth in moral reflection. But in these troubling times, parents need far more if they are to succeed in helping their kids not only think morally but also act morally, and unless children know how to act right, their moral development is defective. After all, we've always known that the true measure of character rests in our actions--not in mere thoughts.
Enhancing our children's moral intelligence is our best hope for getting our kids on the right course so that they do act as well as think right. It's also our best hope for their developing the traits of solid character. In his book The Moral Intelligence of Children, Robert Coles wrote of the urgent need to address this crucial aptitude in our children. Developing this miraculous moral capacity in your child is the best way to protect his moral life now and forever, and Building Moral Intelligence will teach you how.
MORAL INTELLIGENCE: THE BEST HOPE FOR SAVING OUR KIDS' MORAL LIVES
Moral intelligence is the capacity to understand right from wrong; it means to have strong ethical convictions and to act on them so that one behaves in the right and honorable way. This wonderful aptitude encompasses such essential life characteristics as the ability to recognize someone's pain and to stop oneself from acting on cruel intentions; to control one's impulses and delay gratification; to listen openly to all sides before judging; to accept and appreciate differences; to decipher unethical choices; to empathize; to stand up against injustice; and to treat others with compassion and respect. These are the core traits that will help your child become a decent, good human being; they are the bedrock of solid character and strong citizenship, and they are ones we want most for our kids.
It's increasingly apparent that a number of kids are in serious trouble because they've never acquired moral intelligence. With only flimsy consciences, poor impulse control, underdeveloped moral sensitivity, and misguided beliefs, they are greatly handicapped. Although the causes of moral decline are complex, one fact is undeniable: the moral atmosphere in which today's kids are being raised is toxic to moral intelligence, for two major reasons. First, a number of critical social factors that nurture moral character are slowly disintegrating: adult supervision, models of moral behavior, spiritual or religious training, meaningful adult relationships, personalized schools, clear national values, community support, stability, and adequate parenting. Second, our kids are being steadily bombarded with outside messages that go against the very values we are trying to instill. Both factors are contributing greatly to our kids' moral demise as well as to their loss of innocence.
Our challenge is even tougher because those incessant toxic messages come from a variety of sources to which our kids have extremely easy access. Television, movies, video games, popular music, and advertising are certainly among the worst moral offenders because they flaunt cynicism, disrespect, materialism, casual sex, vulgarity, and the glorification of violence. The amount of bad stuff in cyberspace is staggering: pornography, stalkers, satanism, pedophiles, and so many new hate sites even the best filters can't screen them all. Of course the popular media aren't the only toxic influences; anyone or anything that counters your family's moral convictions is a potential threat, so add peers, other adults, and even the evening news to your list.
The truth is that toxic influences are so entrenched in our culture that shielding your child from them is almost impossible. Even if you've blocked their accessibility and prohibit them in your home, once your child steps outside they lurk at every corner. That's why it's crucial that you build his moral intelligence so he has a deeply developed inner sense of right and wrong and can use it to stand up against those outside influences. Moral intelligence will be the muscle he needs to counter those negative pressures and will give him the power to act right with or without your guidance.
The best news is that moral intelligence is learned, and you can start building it when your kids are toddlers. Although at that age they certainly don't have the cognitive capacities to handle complex moral reasoning, that's when the rudiments of moral habits--such as exercising self-control, being fair, showing respect, sharing, and empathizing--are first acquired. In fact, the latest research on moral development finds that babies six months of age are already responding to others' distress and acquiring the foundation for empathy. The mistake parents often make is waiting until their kids are six or seven--the so-called Age of Reason--to cultivate their moral capabilities. Parents' delaying in this way only increases children's potential for learning destructive negative habits that erode moral growth and make it so much harder for them to change.
Although moral intelligence can be learned, achieving it is far from guaranteed. It must be consciously modeled and nurtured, and because you are your child's first and most important moral instructor, there is no one better than you to inspire these essential moral virtues. The sooner you begin purposefully cultivating your child's capacity for moral intelligence, the better her chances of acquiring the foundation she'll need to develop solid character and of growing to think, believe, and act morally.
THE SEVEN ESSENTIAL VIRTUES OF MORAL INTELLIGENCE
Moral intelligence consists of seven essential virtues--empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, and fairness--that help your child navigate through the ethical challenges and pressures she will inevitably face throughout life. These core virtues are what give her the moral bearings by which to stay on the path of goodness and to help her behave morally. Or, as a seven-year-old told me, "They're the things in me that help me be good." And all can be taught, modeled, inspired, and reinforced so that your child can achieve them. Here are the seven essential virtues that will nurture a lifelong sense of decency in your child:
1. Empathy is the core moral emotion that allows your child to understand how other people feel. This is the virtue that helps him become more sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, be more likely to help those who are hurt or troubled, and treat others more compassionately. It is also the powerful moral emotion that urges your child to do what is right because he can recognize the impact of emotional pain on others, stopping him from acting cruelly.
2. Conscience is a strong inner voice that helps your child decide right from wrong and stay on the moral path, zapping her with a dose of guilt whenever she strays. This virtue fortifies your child against forces countering goodness and enables her to act right even in the face of temptation. It is the cornerstone for the development of the crucial virtues of honesty, responsibility, and integrity.
3. Self-control helps your child restrain his impulses and think before he acts so that he behaves right and is less likely to make rash choices with potentially dangerous outcomes. This is the virtue that helps your child become self-reliant because he knows he can control his actions. It is also the virtue that motivates generosity and kindness because it helps your child put aside what would give him immediate gratification and stirs his conscience to do something for someone else instead.
4. Respect encourages your child to treat others with consideration because she regards them as worthy. This is the virtue that leads your child to treat others the way she would like to be treated, and so lays the foundation to preventing violence, injustice, and hatred. When your child makes respect a part of her daily living, she will be more likely to care about the rights and feelings of others; as a result, she will show greater respect for herself, too.
5. Kindness helps your child show his concern about the welfare and feelings of others. By developing this virtue, your child will become less selfish and more compassionate, and he will understand that treating others kindly is simply the right thing to do. When your child achieves kindness, he will think more about the needs of others, show concern, offer to help those in need, and stick up for those who are hurt or troubled.
6. Tolerance helps your child appreciate different qualities in others, stay open to new perspectives and beliefs, and respect others regardless of differences in race, gender, appearance, culture, beliefs, abilities, or sexual orientation. This is the virtue that influences your child to treat others with kindness and understanding, to stand up against hatred, violence, and bigotry, and to respect people primarily on the basis of their character.
7. Fairness leads your child to treat others in a righteous, impartial, and just way so that she will be more likely to play by the rules, take turns and share, and listen openly to all sides before judging. Because this virtue increases your child's moral sensitivity, she will have the courage to stick up for those treated unfairly and demand that all people-- regardless of race, culture, economic status, ability, or creed--be regarded equally.
MORAL INTELLIGENCE BUILDER
The Seven Essential Virtues of Moral Intelligence and Solid Character
The seven essential virtues that follow comprise the complete plan for building your child's moral intelligence provided in this book. These seven traits are what your child needs most to do what's right and resist any pressures that may defy the habits of solid character and good ethical living.
|Empathy||Identifying with and feeling other people's concerns|
|Conscience||Knowing the right and decent way to act and acting that way|
|Self-control||Regulating your thoughts and actions so that you stop any pressures from within or without and act the way you know and feel is right|
|Respect||Showing you value others by treating them in a courteous and considerate way|
|Kindness||Demonstrating concern about the welfare and feelings of others|
|Tolerance||Respecting the dignity and rights of all persons, even those whose beliefs and behaviors differ from our own|
|Fairness||Choosing to be open minded and to act in a just and fair way|
BUILDING MORAL INTELLIGENCE STEP BY STEP
Building Moral Intelligence provides a step by step blueprint for enhancing your child's moral capacity based on the ethical principles of these seven essential virtues. This book provides you with the tools to teach these critical principles to your child. Each time your child achieves another virtue, she expands her moral intelligence capacities even further, and she climbs another rung on the moral development ladder.
Three virtues form the foundation of your child's moral intelligence: empathy, conscience, and self-control. In truth, they are so critical to moral intelligence that I call them the moral core. When any one of the three is underdeveloped, the child is left morally defenseless against toxic influences coming his way; when all three of the core elements are weak, the child becomes a time bomb waiting to explode. A solid core is crucial to developing children's moral intelligence because it gives kids the power to counter outside and inside vices so that they do what's right.
Once the foundation to moral growth is solidly laid, the next two virtues of moral intelligence can be added: respect, a deep valuing of all life; and kindness, which is a sense of human decency and compassion in relationships. The final virtues, tolerance and fairness, are the cornerstones to integrity, justice, and citizenship. Together, these seven virtues become your child's moral compass, guiding her toward responsible living and ethical conduct. They are the tools she will use to chart her moral fate.
Once your child achieves these essential seven virtues, her moral education is by no means complete. Moral growth is an ongoing process that continues throughout your child's lifetime, and along the way she'll be adding dozens more virtues to her moral repertoire; in fact, morality experts have identified more than four hundred virtues. As her moral intelligence capacities expand and if the right conditions for moral growth are present, she'll have the potential to attain even higher moral virtues, such as self-discipline, humility, courage, temperance, integrity, mercy, and altruism. But the origin of her moral I. Q. will always consist of the seven essential virtues that you helped her achieve. She will use these virtues as a template for creating her character and defining her humanity, and she'll refer to them the rest of her life.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
What you have in your hands is a guide to teaching the traits of moral intelligence most needed by children and teens in today's troubled world. I've purposely ordered the seven essential virtues into a logical teaching sequence. Because the virtues of empathy, conscience, and self-control lay the foundation for the later virtues--respect, kindness, tolerance, and fairness--I urge you to focus first on building these three core virtues. This approach gives your child the best foundation for solid moral growth.
To help you build these seven essential virtues, each chapter offers a wealth of research-based practical strategies for enhancing moral intelligence. The goal of these activities is to teach your child new moral habits she'll need to lead a good and moral life, so choose the ones you feel are best suited to her unique temperament and learning style. Although the content of this book is quite serious, the activities are designed to be fun, relaxing, and enjoyable. I hope this is the tone with which you and your child will work together. Here's what you'll find in each chapter to help you expand your child's moral intelligence:
SHAPING OUR CHILDREN'S MORAL DESTINIES
Teaching any new habit--especially those as important as the behaviors associated with these seven essential virtues--takes time, commitment, and patience. Of course, the optimum goal is for our kids to become less and less dependent on our moral guidance by incorporating these moral principles into their daily lives and making them their own. That can happen only if you emphasize the importance of the virtues over and over and your child repeatedly practices these moral behaviors. After all, that's how people learn habits and internalize principles, as Aristotle pointed out hundreds of years ago when he said, "We are what we repeatedly do." Consistent, repeated, short lessons about these virtues are precisely what your child needs to achieve them.
Also keep in mind that telling your child about the virtue is never as powerful as showing what the quality looks like by demonstrating it in your own life. Try to make your life a living example of these seven virtues for your child to see. Doing so is the surest way to help your child "catch" them and want to use them in his own life both now and later.
As parents and teachers, we can no longer sit back and hope our kids become caring and decent human beings. Too many societal influences are endangering our children's moral growth. There is an answer to our fears, and it lies in what all the research tells us: we can make a difference in our children's lives because the seven essential virtues that build moral intelligence are learned--and we can teach them. Deliberately teaching these virtues at home, at school, and in our communities is the best assurance we have that our kids will lead decent, moral lives.
Building our children's moral intelligence capacities will be perhaps our greatest legacy. It can affect every aspect of their lives now as well as the quality of their future relationships, professions, productivity, parenting skills, citizenship--even their contributions to art, commerce, and literature and to their local community and society as a whole. These virtues are timeless: they will remain vital long after our children leave home, begin their adult lives, and use the virtues to raise their own children. Because the moral foundation we provide for our children now is what ultimately will define their reputations as human beings, building that foundation may well be our most crucial and challenging task as parents. And we haven't a moment to lose, for the moral destinies of our sons and daughters are at stake. Are you up for the challenge?
|The 1st Essential Virtue: Empathy|
|The 2nd Essential Virtue: Conscience|
|The 3rd Essential Virtue: Self-Control|
|The 4th Essential Virtue: Respect|
|The 5th Essential Virtue: Kindness|
|The 6th Essential Virtue: Tolerance|
|The 7th Essential Virtue: Fairness|
|Resources for Building Moral Intelligence|
|Book Discussion Guide|
|About the Author|
Posted March 20, 2010
Very practical and comprehensive. Easy to work through. I started a conversation about the material about empathy (the first virtue) with my 10 year old daughgter and the conversation is continuing. She is taking this matter seriously because it affects her daily life and offers solutions to her unhappy experiences in social settings. This is a book that can change our schools. I am using it to change hers.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 6, 2008
'Building Moral Intelligence' helped me to gain a new perspective of moral intelligence, and how I can raise my children to understand. This book was very helpful and informing.<BR/>No time to read the whole book? Check out the 8 page summary at ParentsDigest.comWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 4, 2002
Posted August 2, 2001
Dr. Michele Borba has a long and successful track record helping build the moral character of our youth. As an educator, I have long been quite familiar with her books and materials on building self esteem. Her concepts are not ¿feel good¿ simplistic ideas, but rather she works with the concept that self esteem comes from the acquisition of skills such as the seven virtues in this book. Building Moral Intelligence is an asset to parents who have a difficult job raising moral children in a society that offers many countering forces. I have used her book Parents DO Make a Difference in working with parent groups. I expect this book will be as valuable for parents and educators alike. Working with children and raising a family are both exciting yet challenging jobs. We are lucky to have Dr. Borba¿s help.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2001
I applaud this book! During my 25 years teaching in public schools, I have witnessed a disturbing shift in the way young people view themselves and the world around them. In the midst of troubling news about kids today, <i>Building Moral Intelligence</i> offers a refreshing look at what can be. A healthy mix of background information, authoritative research, and anecdotal content leads the reader to practical tools to evaluate and encourage positive personal growth. Clearly written and well edited, Dr. Borba's book offers a realistic understanding of current trends, then provides concrete solutions that address each critical issue. As one of the world's leading authorities on moral development, Dr. Borba has given us a real book for real people. <i>Building Moral Intelligence</i> holds the key to what is possible for kids everywhere. This should be mandatory reading for every parent, every politician, and every citizen who cares about the health of this nation.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 15, 2001
One of the more encouraging developments in the concern about the character and behavior of our young people has been the publication of books designed to bring the research of social scientists and educators to the public in a format and context that could be easily understood. Thomas Lickona accomplished that in 1981 with his outstanding book, Raising Good Children. William Damon did so with his 1988 book, The Moral Child. Now Michele Borba has continued that fine tradition, calling upon both the latest research findings as well as her extensive experience as an educator and visiting consultant and her knowledge base as the mother of three sons. She has written a remarkably thorough and yet completely accessible book on the whole topic of building moral intelligence, focusing on seven essential virtues she had identified, a book on how to teach children moral behavior by instruction, example, and practice. I wondered how she could possibly succeed at convering such an extensive topic. She does it by presenting interesting scientific data, by skillfully summarizing much of the complex and sophisticated research results in this field, and by innovatively interspersing the science with useful and entertaining experiences ands anecdotes that poignantly illustrate each virtue and each desirable behavior or issue. The helpful general and scientific references are found at the end, as well as contact Internet addresses. Dr. Borba never strays from her theme and purpose, and in doing so has written arguably the most comprehensive and useful book yet available on the important subject of how we, as parents, family members, educators, and members of the health professions, can evaluate and help young people to build their moral intelligence. The famous historian Heraclitus prophetically wrote that 'Character is Destiny.' As a health professional working with children and adolescents in a mental hospital, the words of Heraclitus resound with me. I only wish that the parents and family members of 'my kids' had already, or would read this book. Such a critical difference it would have or could make on the health and future of these precious children! If you could only own one book on moral intelligence, this is the one I would recommend.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 26, 2001
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tools for preparing my kids for life Reviewer: A reader from El Dorado Hills, CA USA Being the mother of two small girls about to enter the public school system, I have spent many nights worrying what kinds of challenges lay ahead. After reading Dr. Borba's book, I sleep much easier. She provides such a clear desciption of the essential skills that will help parents and teachers prepare kids to succeed. By teaching these virtues to my kids, I know that they will flourish in any situation. Dr. Borba gives practical and easy to use methods to enhance virtues that research has proven reduces aggression in kids. Her examples are entertaining and teach the importance of every moment I spend with my child and the influence I have on developing these traits in her. By offering hard research, then clear descriptions of what each of the seven virtues is, I know how to make a difference in my kids' lives and their ability to cope. The book is filled with resources along with proven methods that are fun to implement and even more fun when I see the changes in my kids everyday. I hope all parents and teachers will take advantage of this great resource, for our kid's sake.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2001
This is the first book I've seen that gives me PRACTICAL ways to help my sons become decent human beings. The sections on bully proofing, self control and anger management are tops. If parents could only read this book together we really could reduce violence in our kids' livesWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2009
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