The moral development in children, as asserted by Piaget and Kohlberg, is based on the experiences that children encounter as they interact with their physical environment. As it has been revealed, these two psychologist’s view of moral development in children is much related; as they seem to intersect in their arguments in various aspects. According to Jean Piaget, the development of moral values is totally dependent on the child’s growing environment. Basically, Piaget’s explanation of moral values is strongly attached to childhood developmental environment in which he/she interacts with physically. It is important to note that, Piaget emphasizes on the effect of the environment that a child is exposed to, at early stages, towards his/her moral development (Ganly, 2010).
Similarly, Kohlberg conferred with Piaget in the sense that, it is the child’s immediate environment that contributes to his/her moral development. Specifically, Kohlberg postulated that, moral concepts like equality, right and justice among others are acquired through their active experiences with the environment they grew into. In this respect therefore, both Piaget and Kohlberg seem to be having a common view in the way moral values are acquired among individuals. Perhaps, according to Huitt & Hummel (2003), Kohlberg’s work has been observed to be an elaboration of Piaget’s theories on moral development in which he further expounds on what triggers the development of specific aspects of behaviors.
As Piaget asserted, all behaviors acquired by individuals originate from actions. By so doing, individuals constrict and reconstruct the skills and various knowledges of the world from interacting practically with the environment. In this regard, Piaget suggests on the acquirement of various behaviors by children through playing; in which morality is part of the developmental process. More specifically, together with other aspects, moral development is ultimately acquired by children through interactive playing. More importantly, the development of egocentrism in children has been the main focus in Piaget’s work. In this case, children usually deserve to have what they think is best for them with less regard on the other people’s wishes. This is based on the cognitive structure of human beings where the ego usually seeks self actualization (David, 2008).
According to Kohlberg, a child’s growing environment comprised of rules, rights and wrongs helps to shape the moral development of the child to a great extent. Specifically, various types of “moral realism” dominate in the development of moral values of a child. This means that, the influence that the child gets from the older people on what is right and wrong helps to shape his/her moral development. As revealed by Meyerhoff (2010), moral realism is the way children learn on what is wrong and right as stipulated by the environment that they grow in. in this regard therefore, Piaget suggested on the effect of the cognitive structure of an individual as contributing towards the development of moral values.
On the other hand, Kohlberg suggested that, the development of morality in children follows six hierarchical stages of moral reasoning. Initially, an individual’s moral judgments are characterized by an individual’s personal perspective. In this stage, heteronomous orientation which is focuses on the avoidance of punishments and being obedience characterizes initial stages of moral development. More specifically, individuals operate to avoid any form of punishments which would be accrued from physical environment as a result on ‘wrong’ behavior. Certainly, this argument as asserted by Kohlberg confers to the one by Piaget in the sense that, they both stress on the influence of the physical environment on the entire moral development process in individuals (David, 2008).
Further, as observed by Piaget, the development of ‘the rule’ by young children is based on what they acquire from the environment they interact with. More specifically, Piaget introduced the effect of interpersonal co-operations on the basis of what is perceived as right and wrong. Precisely, the process of coordinating one’s views on the basis interactive rules among the people, which have a very significant impact on the children’s moral development. Basically, children’s interpersonal interactions represses ego desires through operating on ‘the set standards by the society’ in order to harmonize behaviors within that set of individuals. By so doing, there arises the idea of autonomous view of morality as being in consistent with the society’s set interaction rules and values. As a result, the child’s moral values develop in accordance to the pre-set norms and values (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).
Meanwhile, Kohlberg introduces the idea of moral reciprocity among individuals in the society. Specifically, conventional reasoning in morality development enhances the identification of individuals with the rules and norms in the society. Basically, the main argument here is the ability to uphold societal values and norms and try make them part of their operations. It is important to note that, this forms the basic level of moral development as individuals try to incorporate the already existing norms in their environment in their minds, which contributes towards the ultimate development of morals as per the already existing norms and values (Ganly, 2010).
Further, Kohlberg’s ideas are observed to reinforce Piaget’s suggestions in moral development in the sense that, they both relate moral development with the already existing norms and values in the society. This is evidenced when Piaget postulates on the effects of co-operations in various problem solving and decision making processes which further help in nurturing the development of moral values among individuals. By so doing, there would be established common rules whose main base is on fairness, leading to enhancement of moral values reinforcement among the people (David, 2008).