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StarMountainKid

Are Children Basically Bad

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I was surfing on Youtube and happened on a clip of the old Jack Parr show with Billy Graham. At one point Mr. Graham said, “You don’t have to teach a child to be bad, you teach a child to be good.”

I had to push the pause button at that moment. My question is why do human beings need to be taught to be moral (if indeed they do)? Are we basically malicious creatures from childhood? Could a society without moral instruction become moral by itself?

If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Lord of the Flies” or read the book you’ll know what I’m getting at. I know this is an old question, but I'd be interested in your comments.

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Posted (edited)

I don't think that people are born bad. I think that people are taught to be selfish and later learn to act otherwise.

As a small child, everything is focused on and around you, for that time you basically run things. As you grow older, you learn that it's not all about you and you find your spot in society, for good or for ill.

Edited by the1truebat
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I don't think humans are inherently bad, just inherently self-centered.

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I don't think children are born good or bad. However, the way they are raised will depend on if they turn out good or bad. It's all about nurture in my opinion.

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One of my sons actually got beat up by an angry midget because he did nothing to defend himself; he said later it just didn't seem like it would have been a fair fight. I was proud of him for that, but kind of embarassed, too, that a midget beat him up. I didn't have to teach my children to be good or kind, they came into the world that way, and now that they're adults, nothing has changed. I think we do sometimes unconsciously teach children to be mean-spirited, aggressive, and egocentric by failing to talk about moral & ethics, right vs wrong, etc.

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One of my sons actually got beat up by an angry midget because he did nothing to defend himself; he said later it just didn't seem like it would have been a fair fight. I was proud of him for that, but kind of embarassed, too, that a midget beat him up. I didn't have to teach my children to be good or kind, they came into the world that way, and now that they're adults, nothing has changed. I think we do sometimes unconsciously teach children to be mean-spirited, aggressive, and egocentric by failing to talk about moral & ethics, right vs wrong, etc.

You might not have taught your children to be good directly, but they learned how to be good from watching you do good things. That's where they learned it from.

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I don't think you have to teach a child to be "good", I think you have to teach a child everything. I think children get in trouble not for being "bad" but more so for being curious.

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I don't know if a child is really naturally good or bad. they're born and they know nothing so its up to the people around them to teach them how to act. maybe a better way to phrase it is children ate naturally rebellious.

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Posted (edited)

Perspective has a lot to do with things, almost anything can be seen as right or wrong from different perspectives. From past experince, there are two different main types of people, People who veiw themselves to be most important and people who veiw others to be most imporant. It is my beileif that the majority of people veiw themselves to be the most important, and that isn't nessicarily bad but your actions will reflect this. So therefore, i think it is importatnt to introduce the concept that others feel things just as acutely as yourself and that there is more to life than just yourself.

Edited by ascendant606

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Are Children Basically Bad?

Nope! Just got to be taught how to control their selfish negative desires and focus on their positive desires. Basic parenting 101.

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Unfortunately, it isn't only parents who shape their kids. And likewise, fortunately, it isn't only parents who shape their kids.

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Each individual is a person, and that person is whatever he or she is. This applies to children too, although most of the personality traits the child will have take awhile to reveal themselves. This is the "nature" side of the issue.

Can we change what a person is? The answer is, "yes," a little, but it is damn hard and we have to keep our expectations reasonable. A true sociopath (one to five percent of the population) -- someone born with no ability to form a conscience -- is not going to be changed by being disciplined or encouraged or punished or rewarded. They are what they are, and will pull the wings off whatever they get a hold of. A parent who is unfortunate enough to have such a child has to practice a policy of disincentives (although since this trait seems to run in families, the parents may also be sociopaths).

This is rare. Most children are born with a strong desire to please their parents, along with a bunch of other desires that may not be so pleasing to their parents, and an inbred drive to learn the ethical rules of the culture (known as conscience). This is the other side of the issue, "nurture," and is partly under the control of parents, although most studies have shown that peers play a greater role.

What to conclude: in life take each person as what they are, not what you think they should be, and don't judge. With children, do the same. Try to develop the child's strengths but always remember that they are a person, not a little toy or robot or bit of clay that you can mold. It won't work.

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I don't think that people are born bad. I think that people are taught to be selfish and later learn to act otherwise.

As a small child, everything is focused on and around you, for that time you basically run things. As you grow older, you learn that it's not all about you and you find your spot in society, for good or for ill.

This is pretty much exactly what I was going to write!

My kids are not "bad". But I think like all kids they have moments of extreme selfishness. That is why you teach sharing and being kind to each other from an early age. My boys are 4 and 6 and can still be selfish at times.

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NO way are children bad,they are born with survival instincts,and have to learn the difference between good and bad.they establish a "pecking order",the same as a pride of lions, or a family of monkeys.the eldest or the largest usually being the leader.They dont see stealing from another child as bad unless they are taught thats its not the done thing.The family members around them teach them how to behave.Children in good families are brought up to respect their elders and later pass this on, but in bad families its the "survival of the fittest".A lot depends on which company they keep.And as they grow older they soon realise the difference between good and bad.

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I do not believe we are born bad and being bad is a natural trait. Everyone who is capable of loving has something good inside. Love is one thing we all experience and from that alone, I can say that we are naturally good- there are only distractions that come along the way that's why we do bad things (for a reason).

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You might not have taught your children to be good directly, but they learned how to be good from watching you do good things. That's where they learned it from.

Thanks for saying that.

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Having raised an autistic child, I would agree that children are born neutral and learn behavior from observation. However, they also are born self-centered, but not necessarily selfish. It takes a while for them to develop the ability to recognize that other individuals have a point-of-view. Their ability to empathize has to grow and be nurtured.

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I don't think humans are inherently bad, just inherently self-centered.

While it is true people will be self centered at times in the course of their life-- when you are talking about being "self centered" in child developmental terms-- it really means egocentric (which means that during the maturity process one cannot see things from other points of view/perspectives.) Basically, a child's brain can only perceive in states(their own,now) as opposed to alternatives(they do not understand yet that there are other ways to perceive things) If this persists in an adult we call this a fixed mindset. and this definitely can impede someone. A child will begin to become less egocentric between 2-7 years old ( prior to this the child assumes that everyone else sees, feels, hears exactly the same as him/her,(Piaget called this the pre operational stage.)

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I was surfing on Youtube and happened on a clip of the old Jack Parr show with Billy Graham. At one point Mr. Graham said, “You don’t have to teach a child to be bad, you teach a child to be good.”

I had to push the pause button at that moment. My question is why do human beings need to be taught to be moral (if indeed they do)? Are we basically malicious creatures from childhood? Could a society without moral instruction become moral by itself?

If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Lord of the Flies” or read the book you’ll know what I’m getting at. I know this is an old question, but I'd be interested in your comments.

It seems you came across an early influence of child rearing perspectives, prior to English Christian influence of child rearing there was no interest in child development.The Sunday School movement kick started the ideology of what you see in the you tube video. This movement basically taught that children were born evil (original sin) and in need of having this evil extracted from them.This gave rise to religious education and harsh discipline. On one hand for it's day it was the first time children became significant and education was encouraged (religious of course.) On the other hand as early as the pre empirical stage of child development it had serious problems and Philosophers such as Locke and Rousseau challenged it's effectiveness. Fast forward to present day and we have evolved our world views to what we have now which is contemporary diversity. There have been six major shifts in child development theories which can be evidenced within culture today.

"Historically, the term family diversity referred to variations from a traditional family. This implied that there was one best type of family, and that all other family types were dysfunctional and deviant. In a more contemporary view, family diversity refers to a broad range of characteristics or dimensions on which families vary, along with a recognition that there are a multitude of different family types that function effectively. Family diversity thus refers to variations along structural or demographic dimensions (e.g., race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status), as well as in family processes (e.g., communication and parenting behaviors)" (Eeden-Moorefield & Demo, 2007).

http://workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/glossary/f/family-diversity-definitions

Kohlberg is the go to for morality inquiries.

http://www.indiana.edu/~koertge/Sem104/Kohlberg.html

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Thanks for saying that.

You're welcome

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But a child that doesnt have a conscience wouldnt be able to feel for others the pain there inflicting so what then? I mean sociopaths arent born as adults there children first. So what would you do in that situation? BTW I dont have kids

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You hit the nail right on, and even if the kid isn't a sociopath, but still has some tendencies in his nature that are unacceptable, what do you do? Good training can try to alter it, but it probably won't.

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I think children are certainly not born evil in any way, simply a blank canvass upon which our parents paint a picture. Mental illness aside, we all are normal and wish to be treated well, and we know that we should treat others as we wish to be treated. In Lord of the Flies I thought Golding was not really writing a story about children at all, but it was about adult society. I cannot see children of the age depicted in the story becoming bloodthirsty savages. Certainly they will not be saints, but I do not believe for a moment that they will kill each other. To me, the problems with children growing up bad are the result of bad parents. It is a sort of chicken and egg situation, for bad parents make, generally, bad children who in turn create more bad children. It is like a disease, but how to stop it.....

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Sometimes I think children seem bad, because they are pushing the boundaries to see how far they can go, or how much they can get away with. But that helps to define the line, so that they know how far they can go and what is acceptable and what isn't...

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Posted (edited)

I think children are certainly not born evil in any way, simply a blank canvass upon which our parents paint a picture.

"Give me the child for seven years and I will give you the man."

(St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) or St. Francis Xavier, first missionary to India who assisted Ignatius in the formation of the Jesuits.)

Edited by ealdwita

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