There’s an OISE article about how anthropomorphic animal stories are not as effective at conveying lessons as stories with real children in them.

I am not surprised by these findings.

The study was done on pre-schoolers.

That age is not conducive to ambiguity. You need to spell it out.

And yet so many parents and educators avoid stories with obvious morals.

This is a mistake.

A lot of the anxiety our children are experiencing these days is a direct result of a tentative approach to morality.

Moral tales might seem heavy-handed to us, but they are not to children! Pre-school children need confidence when it comes to what is right and wrong. I’m talking universal mores: sharing is good, be kind, don’t hit people, have good manners, the golden rule.

One of my grandkids’ favorites is called Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry by Samantha Berger.

Yes it’s an anthropomorphized tale, Martha is an otter, but surprisingly my grandkids get the message and even though it has a moral, they often choose the book themselves to read.

When I read it to them, after each of the outrageous things that Martha does, I ask them, “What should she do?” and even the little two year olds whisper, “She should say ‘sorry’.”

They get it.

It’s so important for me to engage them like that. If I didn’t, perhaps they wouldn’t extrapolate the lesson to themselves. It sure has made it easier for them to say the little words ‘I’m sorry.”

Image result for martha doesn't say sorry

At this age, we need to be serious with kids. Tell it like it is. Give them the moral tools in order to establish the ethical foundation they’ll need to navigate life. And do so with confidence!

Pre-school is not the time to be tentative!

Go ahead and explain what is right and wrong. Then as they grow and are exposed to different cultures, discuss how they might view aspects of morality differently but how basic principles, like the golden rule, are true for everyone.