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Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing Hardcover – May 15, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Television, games, the Internet, peers and other forces shape children's morality, but consultant and educator Borba (Parents Do Make a Difference) argues that it is parents who provide the most enduring modeling and instruction. Kids, she asserts, should be fortified against the onslaught of increasingly negative cultural influences violent video games, nasty music lyrics by parental involvement and guidance. Designed as a guide for parents and caregivers of children from three to 15 years old, the book describes an epidemic deficiency in the moral development of American kids and outlines seven virtues (Empathy, Conscience, Self-Control, Respect, Kindness, Tolerance and Fairness) to be engendered in children. Devoting an identically designed chapter to each virtue, she defines the virtue in accessible and secular language. She then provides a test for parents to assess their children and offers practical actions parents can take on a daily basis. Throughout, her tone is pragmatic and optimistic. She advises parents to make sure they are providing a moral example that they would want their children to follow in other words, watch their own behavior. She advises parents to be direct about their own moral beliefs and encourage specific virtuous behaviors. Borba concludes the book with a helpful resource list. A packed storehouse, this helpful, informative and hopeful book will be dog-eared over years of consultation. (July)Forecast: Many readers will recognize Borba's name; as an expert on "bullying," she makes frequent TV appearances, and on Oprah's Mom Online she is the "Moral Intelligence Pro." This book is timely; given public debates on media violence, and the prevention of juvenile crime, it's likely to be widely read and referenced.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Writing with confident authority and providing good, current references, Borba offers "a step by step blueprint for enhancing your child's moral capacity" the ethical compass that charts a youngster's moral fate. She first defines seven intertwining "essential virtues of moral intelligence and solid character": empathy, conscience, self-control (these first three form a "moral core"), respect, kindness, tolerance, and fairness. Ensuing chapters suggest how to incubate, nurture, and master individual virtues using realistic, workable methods. The book recalls Becky A. Bailey's Easy To Love, Difficult To Discipline (LJ 2/15/00), which frames "loving guidance" in seven-part structures (seven values for living, seven powers of self control, etc.). It's also similar to Borba's own Parents Do Make a Difference (Jossey-Bass, 1999). All these books have noble goals yet require a high initial investment of energy and time; this is not a quick fix but a way of living. Of course, many of those who really need Borba's book won't read it; if more people mastered these traits, the world would be a different and better place. Recommended for larger public libraries. Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Hartford
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (May 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787953571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787953577
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr.Michele Borba is a TODAY contributor and regular parent expert on shows including The View, CNN and Dr. Phil. She is an educational psychologist, former teacher and mom who is recognized for her solution-based strategies to strengthen a child's behavior and character.Titles include PARENTS DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, NO MORE MISBEHAVIN', BUILDING MORAL INTELLIGENCE, and 12 SIMPLE SECRETS REAL MOMS KNOW. Her latest book is THE BIG BOOK OF PARENTING SOLUTIONS: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. Blog: or twitter:

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
Very well written.
J. Smith
It is our responsibility to teach our children these essential moral virtues and the book makes it easy.
Teresa Bickmore
I recommend this book to every parents.
Maasoumah Alsubaibai

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Nature Mom w/ 2 children + EE & Management degrees on October 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There are seven essential virtues--empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, and fairness--that the author believes helps a child deal with ethical challenges and pressures she will encounter throughout life. Each chapter offers strategies for enhancing moral intelligence including...a self-test to evaluate your child's virtue strength, practical ways to enhance the virtue (several to choose from, so you can choose the ones best suited to your child's temperament and learning style), discussion questions to help launch a dialog with your child, and much more. The one thing that was missing was information on what behavior is developmentally appropriate by age. For example the quizzes on each virtue are great...but perhaps it's not as serious if a 4-year-old is somewhat selfish or less empathetic than it is for a 12-year-old. Other than that and the occasional feeling like the book was written for some parents needing significant moral boosting themselves (advice like "don't ask your kids to lie for you"), I found the book very educational and uplifting.
Bottom line - This book provides tools to teach critical ethical principles to your child...enabling parents (teachers, etc.) to better model, inspire and reinforce these moral values.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Sandra D. Peters on July 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
While I still maintain a child can best learn from a positive example, unfortunately in today's society, not all parents are setting positive examples. I have counselled many children over the years and in a vast majority of cases, what has contributed most to the need for counselling in the first place has been the absence or lack of adequate parenting skills. There are excellent parents in existence, for many it comes naturally. For others, they never "get the act together." Some individuals, for whatever reason, simply do not possess the bonding ability, tolerance, time, energy, understanding and financial resources to raise a child for the first eighteen years of their life. There are also those parents who feel they are doing "everything right" when in reality, they may be making every mistake in the book.
When a child has become so unhappy, emotionally insecure, rude, defiant and/or physically abusive that the parent(s) can no longer deal with their child, he/she is inevitably pointed in the direction of a counsellor, either by the parent(s) or the courts, to miraculously "fix the problem." In many cases, had the child been raised in a positive, loving, nurturing, understanding, respectful and accepting environment, and learned the importance of moral intelligence, the child would not be sitting in front of me at all. Good relationships, whether it be husband and wife, parent(s) and child, do not just happen. They need time, open communication, commitment, love, understanding, encouragement and a lot of work if they are to grow and survive. "Building Moral Intelligence..." is an excellent learning tool for young, inexperienced parents or any parent who chooses to expand their knowledge on the subject.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jim Davis on May 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If every parent had just one book on their nightshelf this should be the one. It's packed with simple, usable ideas I can use instantly to help my kids become decent human beings. The tips for helping kids stand up to bullies and learn to fight fair are worth the cost of the book alone. If more parents would read this book we really could minimize violence and raise peaceful kids. We should read this book together!
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Greg Morse on August 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I applaud this book!
During my 25 years teaching in public schools, I have witnessed a disturbing shift in the way young people view themselves and the world around them. In the midst of troubling news about kids today, Building Moral Intelligence offers a refreshing look at what can be.
A healthy mix of background information, authoritative research, and anecdotal content leads the reader to practical tools to evaluate and encourage positive personal growth. Clearly written and well edited, Dr. Borba's book offers a realistic understanding of current trends, then provides concrete solutions that address each critical issue.
As one of the world's leading authorities on moral development, Dr. Borba has given us a real book for real people. Building Moral Intelligence holds the key to what is possible for kids everywhere. This should be mandatory reading for every parent, every politician, and every citizen who cares about the health of this nation.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By sunnyangels on March 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Truthfully speaking i was so desperate to change my son's attitude and behaviour towards his friends and towards life.

I am a full time mother and i had done all i can think of to make my son understand more about life, etiquette, morality, character and how to make friends and be a friend.

This book has brought the truth to me.

It makes me really look at my own life first and foremost , how i deal with people, how i treat others,etc...

My action speaks louder than my words.

I grew up surrounded by priviledge and i take alot of things for granted. I just don't realise that my son whom i love very much is looking at me every second with open eyes and ears!!

This book does not only help me change my son's character, but this book also shows me how to be a better mother, a living example for my children to follow.
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