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Character: Here's How a Lawyer Got Kids to Think about Moral Reasoning

Girl Thinking International
Getting Kids to Think about Character

Most kids need character training to elevate their moral reasoning. Our parenting expert, author, and lawyer, Michael Sabbeth, discussed moral reasoning with classroom kids. Here's an excerpt from his book, The Good, The Bad, and the Difference, where he's discussing 'standing up for your convictions' with students.


Take the Con' Out of Convictions 

Jason said that character meant standing up for your convictions. An alarm bell rang in my mind. Is it always a virtue to stand up for your convictions?

Ask your child that question and see how long it takes to slash through this cliche-driven thinking. Probably not long. I've had many such discussions. Without fail, they began with the students extolling the virtue of standing up for one's convictions.

"Why," I asked? I share the remarks of typical class.

"It's important to stand up for what you believe in!" the students roared.

"I disagree," I said with a challenging tone. They looked at me with narrowed eyes, like the torch-bearing villagers going after the beast in Beauty and the Beast.

"You're wrong," Samantha retorted. Her words sliced the air like a saber. "You always tell us to stand up for ourselves. You don't even listen to yourself!"

That was the unkindest cut of all!

Softly, as if on the verge of total defeat, I asked "Is it a virtue to stand up for your convictions if you believe people of a certain color should be slaves?"


Less softly, is it good to stand up for your convictions if you believed that people should be imprisoned or executed without a trial or without evidence against them? If your convictions demand that you fly jets into office buildings or shove people into gas chambers? Are those examples of character?

"Well, what we meant, obviously," Julie harrumphed as if it didn't need to be stated, "was that you should stand up for your convictions if your convictions are good ones. That's what we meant."

Well, good versus bad, that's a rather important distinction, don't you think? The students agreed. Distinguishing between good and bad should be stated again and again. Yet, by George, I think they got it!

They  learned not to leap to a conclusion based on emotion but to reach conclusions based on reason and facts. This is how we can elevate the moral reasoning of our children.

"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value." - Albert Einstein (This excerpt is from pages 186-187.)


I love how Michael gets kids to think as he stretches their ideas to a higher level. It would have been fun to be a student in these lively discussions. I'm sure Michael loved his part too.

Pick up his book, The Good The Bad and the Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values

Cover The Good, The Bad,

 Available at 


Let's APPLAUD Michael Sabbeth for his book filled with stories on how to talk about values with kids.


Michael Sabbeth best
Michael Sabbeth


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With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

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