Different people have put forward different theories to explain the influences of the environment to the development of one’s morality. Such theories include the Piaget’s, Kohlberg's and Brofenbrenner's theories. These theories have highlighted some of the ways that the environment shapes the morality of a child from a tender age. Brofenbrenner explored how external environmental forces influenced the moral development of children, while his counterparts discussed the psychological influences of the environment. Some of the influences are discussed below.
A people’s culture and beliefs bar them from certain activities. Some issues that seem unlikely to cause any harm to other people may be harmful to others (Oswalt, 2010). During the development of a child, there is a high chance that the child would follow the guidelines that his people follow. Greeting patterns, naming system as well as the education systems follow the existing cultural beliefs.
Some families have their traditional beliefs of existence. They therefore have a way of raising their children and their disciplinary actions (Oswalt, 2010). The children are taught about the ways that they should handle their relatives and elders, while keeping their respect and relations between families. This leads t the development of a child towards a certain direction. The family is the immediate people that one comes in contact with during their early development; hence carry a large role in the moral development.
Different social environments have different religious beliefs. Different religions have different teachings, but they all try to regulate the morals of a society (Oswalt, 2010). They therefore lead to the development of children because learning at the early ages is more effective than in the late ages. What the children learn in their first fifteen years is very significant in determining their future moral developments.
Morality of Cooperation
According to Piaget’s theory, a child develops the sense of cooperation with others at an early age of about 10 years. At this stage, the child realizes the structure of the society and the need for the people to form groups in order to create a society (Kohlberg, 1981). They realize that no matter the differences that exist between people, there is need to bridge them in order to create a morally upright society. At this stage, the social environment shows the child that the need to have a common morally guided decision for them to co-exist with one another. At a later age in the adolescent stage, the child develops the feeling of proper judgment to determine when certain actions should be taken, and when they should be dropped. This is referred to as ideal reciprocity. The children at this stage are able to fix themselves in other people’s shoes and make rational decisions that would be good for everyone. Not all cases are reported to the authorities and most cases are solved at the level that would not cause a stir in the society.
Obedience and Avoidance of Punishment
At a young age, the environment teaches a child the difference between right and wrong (Kohlberg, 1981). Punishments are placed on the wrongs while a reward for the good deeds is also given. Kohlberg placed this as the first stage of morality development as a result of the environment to a child. From here, the child tries to get the rewards and avoid punishment as much as possible.
Orientation towards self-interests
As a child develops, he/she develops the feeling of getting better in the society. He starts to strive and get decisions made in his favor (Kohlberg, 1971). He starts with his parents or guardians, tries to win them and get all the good things towards himself. He gets ready to forfeit some of his possessions to pay for benefits.
Adherence to the Social Norms and Laid Down Regulations
The environment then teaches a child to follow the conventional norms within the society. One is able to come up with attitudes and appreciates others and how they ought to be treated in the society (Kohlberg, 1981). The child also identifies the different laws and regulations that govern the respective society, making them differentiate the evil and risks involved when one commits them. One develops a character that people identify him or her with at this stage.
Orientation to social Contract
The social environment then teaches the child that he or she has to pay back to the society. He needs to work and give back the fruits to help the society (Kohlberg, 1971). This is a form of contract that the society holds for everyone, no matter the background of the person.
Adherence to the Universal Morals
The child then develops an understanding that goes beyond the society they are brought up in. They are made to understand other peoples’ needs and how they should represent their society in the other societies (Kohlberg, 1981). There are some moral behaviors that are acceptable in all cultures, and there are others that are acceptable in some of the cultures. The child is led to understand the behavior that are universal and can be accepted among any people. This helps the young person have the ability to know the best ways to interact with people outside their society.