Children somewhere between the ages of seven and twelve already know about the rules they must follow in school and at home. They are able to use moral judgment when deciding whether to engage in certain activities that breaks the rules. They can reason that although they may enjoy the activity, the punishment if caught, is not worth it. They also know that parents, school officials, and law enforcement officials have power over them, and can enforce the rules if need be.
As children progress from the middle years into the preteen years, they experience the consequences of breaking the rules or going against the moral code set forth by their parents. Additionally, they feel good about themselves when helping others, when doing what others expect of them. They know they gain approval when they follow rules.
Because of the experiences they have already gone through, this preteen stage allows them to understand why adults put rules and morals codes in place. When they get into trouble, they may place the blame on someone or something else. They may even feel guilty during this phase when they break a rule or if they do something that, they believe is wrong.
This is a great time for parents to discuss with their preteen the importance of doing what is right and giving examples of what can happen when they do something wrong. It is significant because by the time children reach the teen years, they gain a full understanding of the moral compass their parents set forth for them, and becomes the perfect time for them to disagree and rebel against the rules. Fortunately, for most parents, this rebellious stage only lasts until the teen reaches adulthood.