The Moral Intelligence of Children

Robert Coles, Author Random House (NY) $21 (224p) ISBN 978-0-679-44811-2
Child psychiatrist Coles, who won a Pulitzer for The Spiritual Life of Children, now tackles the daunting subject of how parents, relatives and teachers give shape to children's moral values and behavior. Drawing on case studies, talks with parent groups, visits to nurseries and classrooms and interviews with children, the Harvard Medical School professor demonstrates that character develops from the very start of life and throughout adolescence, molded by parents' often unself-conscious moral guidance. Further, he documents that children have an innate moral curiosity, a hunger for adults to tell them how they should behave in various situations, and why. The shared, daily experience between emotionally connected adults and their children seems to be the crucial factor in instilling a well-developed moral sense, as underscored by Coles's tales of absent, detached or hurtful parents who raise destructively self-absorbed or morally adrift youth. Written with his customary acute perceptiveness, this important inquiry will enlighten parents, teachers and caregivers concerned with children's moral intelligence. 75,000 first printing; author tour. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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