5 Useful Tips To Handle Ethical & Moral Dilemmas For Teenagers

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The range of dilemmas a teen seems to encounter daily is infinite, including the ethical dilemmas in teenagers. A few examples of it include whether or not to cheat in exams to take drugs and alcohol. In the case of a judgment or decision, an ethical dilemma occurs when one of the alternatives requires the individual to break or compromise on their ethical norms.

Helping your teen handle their dilemmas might be a difficult scenario for you. This post discusses some of the most typical ethical and moral challenges that teenagers confront and some simple solutions to help them overcome them.

In This Article

Common Ethical Dilemmas For Teenagers

Here are some common ethical dilemmas that can make your teen’s life miserable:

1. Academics:

Ethical dilemmas for teenagers
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  • Your teen may face moral quandaries when she has to perform well in academics.
  • Your teen may succumb to peer pressure, or be starstruck by the college’s name. And, they may try to cheat in their examinations or peek at other student’s answer sheet to get desirable grades.
protip_icon Research finds
In a 2006 survey of 787 teenagers between 13 and 18, 44% of
respondents reported feeling intense stress to excel, with girls experiencing
this more than boys. Eight out of ten students believe that achieving success is crucial, no matter what (1).

2. Drugs And Alcohol:

  • Teenagers have an inclination towards trying drugs and alcohol.
  • Your teen may be tempted to try drinking or smoking after observing the close friends.
  • They feel that the consumption of alcohol and drugs makes them cool, and remain popular among friends.
  • Parents and teachers always discourage teens from drug addiction, as an overdose can lead to nasty complications.

3. Lying:

They fear you may overreact
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  • Your teen may lie because she never wants to disappoint or hurt you or any of her closest friends.
  • Teens often lie to cover their faults like not attending school, addiction to drugs or to hide pornographic material.
  • Your teen lies to you; whenever she fears that you may overreact or scold her because of her academics.
protip_icon Did You Know?
Children may pick up on telling lies at around age two to three. They start telling lies to cover their mischiefs (2).

4. Snitching:

  • Your teen often tends to snitch and practice tattle-tailing, as she may not want to betray or upset her parents or dear ones.
  • Sometimes your teen may follow this ethical dilemma to stay loyal to her loved ones and ensure her personal safety.

5. Risk-Taking Behavior:

  • During teenage, the social environment is quite unstable, and your teen is under immense peer pressure.
  • It can lead to irresponsible and inappropriate behavior.
  • You may think that your teen may follow the social ethics before getting involved in any risky decision. But you should know that the teenage brain has less self-control and possesses poor decision-making ability to make an ethical judgment.
  • As a responsible parent, you need to teach your teen social ethics so that she can take up ethical responsibilities that will make her understand the value of life.
  • You can encourage your teen to go through question-and-answer sessions, to check her decision-making ability. (1)

Tips To Handle Ethical & Moral Dilemmas For Teenagers

Try to guide your teen subtly
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You can use the following tips to handle your teen’s dilemma:

  • Before handling any teenage dilemmas, you need to analyze the entire situation in a holistic manner and decide what should be done to control the action morally.
  • Parents and teachers play a pivotal role in solving dilemmas for teen, and they should prepare them to handle the scenario in a positive manner. By offering the appropriate ethical guidance and support, they can also serve as primary sources of ethical resources and ethical role models for their children.
  • Try to guide your teen subtly and teach her should she can do, and what she should avoid. Make your teen understands the conceptual differences between ethics and morals in life.
  • It is important for your teen to make an accurate moral judgment and have a clear idea of the ethical consequences.
  • Help your teen analyze the situations aptly to comprehend and solve their ethical concerns and dilemmas.
  • Always appreciate your teen’s hard work and don’t be judgmental. For instance, if your teen studies hard for exams try to appreciate her, but never tempt her with rewards.
  • Proper parental guidance can prepare your teen to face several moral dilemmas, cope with stress easily, and not lose her mental peace. For instance, you may share cases and examples from your life that the child can find relatable. It can inspire your child to make the right and ethical choices.

protip_icon Point to consider
Children look up to their parents. So lead by example and impart good values to them.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can teachers help foster ethical decision-making in teenagers?

Teachers can include teaching ethical reasoning in the classroom by using real-life situations as examples. This can model ethical behavior in children, and teachers may further encourage this behavior through motivation, ethical counseling, and ethical mentoring.

2. How can teenagers demonstrate respect for the rights of others when considering ethical conflicts or dilemmas?

A teenager can show courtesy to the rights of others by incorporating empathy, honesty, active listening, transparency, and fairness in their decision-making process. Encourage the teenager to prioritize the well-being of everyone in a situation before arriving at a decision or conclusion.

Teenage is a time when children go through many physical and psychological changes. These changes may bring along emotional turmoils and ethical problems. Parents often find their teenagers struggling with ethical predicaments and dilemmas. Ethical dilemmas for teenagers arise when they struggle to find the best choice for themselves. Your teenagers would often battle with moral and ethical issues such as good academic performance, where they may be tempted to cheat during examinations to get good grades. Sometimes, they may be concerned with the implications of alcohol and drug consumption. Dilemmas like these and many others can be sorted with the support of parents and teachers. So, always talk to your teenager and try to understand their perspective. Also, guide them by offering the right advice.

Infographic: Moral Dilemmas Faced By Teenagers

Teenagers experience various moral and ethical dilemmas. In addition, there are various challenging decisions that teens need to make every day. Scroll through the infographic below to learn about the major issues your teen needs help navigating. Save and share it with parents of other teens too!

key moral dilemmas for teens (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

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Key Pointers

  • Adolescents may face ethical dilemmas when making decisions that require a compromise on their values.
  • Moral dilemmas can stem from academic pressure, peer influence, substance abuse, and unsafe environments.
  • Poor self-control, lying, and poor decision-making can also contribute to ethical dilemmas.
  • Parents can prepare their children by offering moral guidance and teaching decision-making skills.
  • Teaching conceptual distinction, analyzing situations and consequences, and showing appreciation and guidance are helpful strategies.
Ethical Dilemmas For Teenagers_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

An ethical dilemma is a difficult situation where you must choose between two options, both of which have moral implications. Explore this video to unravel the complexities of such situations.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Moral Dilemmas.
  2. Liar, liar, pants on fire: The truth about children’s lies – MSU Extension
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