A huge misconception that parents have is that their child's moral intelligence only develops naturally through life-experiences. While yes, moral intelligence can be contributed to lessons learned throughout the years, as explained in Building Moral Intelligence and other psycho-analysis of moral growth, moral intelligence is something that can be instilled as early as 3-years-old. Sure toddlers may not have the cognitive capacity to absorb extremely complex moral reasoning, but they can learn simple moral lessons such as the importance of sharing, empathy and self-control. While leading by example is the ultimate way to embed good moral habits into your child's mind, another way is via storytelling. That said, the non-gender specific classic fairytales highlighted below can not only teach children valuable lessons that can help build character and encourage safety, but this route can also encourage literacy.
*Note, while your child may very well pick up on the lesson(s) him or herself, it's important that you blatantly discuss the lesson after each story so that it can be solidified in his or her mind.
1. PINOCCHIO -- The Dangers of Lying
This Italian-based fairytale tells the story of Pinocchio, a wooden puppet who desperately wants to become a "real boy." On his mission to become human, it becomes evident that Pinocchio is bit of a pathological liar—his small wooden nose grows as large as a tree each and every time he tells half-truths, exaggerates, or fabricates stories entirely. Pinocchio does not become a real boy until he proves that he is self-less, truthful and brave. That said, this is the perfect opportunity to explain to your child that lying, especially to you, is a huge no-no. It doesn't matter how small the lie may be, honesty should be practiced in all settings, including the home and school. Make sure to explain to your child that while his or her nose may not grow, there are tons of other ramifications that may occur when telling/spreading lies.
This classic British fairytale tells the story of three brother piglets that leave their mother's home to live on their own. Each pig designs and builds his own dwelling; the first two use impractical materials like straw and merely rush through the process. The last pig, which is the only one to build a house with sturdy products and spends the most time on construction, has the most durable dwelling. When a wolf comes along and destroys the first two homes, the piglets rush to the third pig's house for protection. In the end, the three pigs must work together to scare the wolf off indefinitely. This is a prime example that not only does patience and hard-work pay off, but team work can surely get you the results you want.
3. LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD -- Do Not Talk To Strangers
This classic fairytale, which originates from France, tells the story of a young girl named Red Riding Hood who takes a solo journey through the deep woods to visit her sick grandmother. On the way, Red Riding Hood meets a hungry wolf who strategically asks her where she's heading so he can gobble her up in private. Red Riding Hood naively tells the wolf of her destination. This sensitive information is what ultimately gets her grandmother eaten and Red Riding Hood almost killed. Thankfully a hunter comes to Red Riding Hood's rescue. But in reality a hunter may not always be around. Thus it's important that you take this opportunity to explain to your child the dangers of talking to strangers and child abduction. Advise your child not to release his or her name, address, or anything else that could jeopardize his or her safety. Nor should he or she ever go anywhere with a stranger or be easily lured by toys, candy or other gifts. It's equally important that you describe to your child what to do in these instances, such as cry for help, run away, and turn to people that he or she should be able to trust, such as a police officer—a modern day huntsman.