What is conscience?

A conscience is the voice in your head, and the feeling in your heart, that tells you if something is right or wrong.

Have you ever done something you knew wasn’t ok, and then you felt uncomfortable in your heart or kind of yucky in your body? That’s your conscience!

If you’ve ever thought about doing something you knew wasn’t ok, and a voice in your head said, “Maybe you shouldn’t do that. You might get in trouble.” That’s your conscience!

Your conscience is your inner guide and it helps you figure out how to make good choices. As you grow up, you learn right from wrong. Your conscience is the thought and feeling you have that tells you whether something is a right or wrong thing to do or say. “Listen to your conscience” means you hear and feel the messages your conscience sends you and then you make a good choice.

How your conscience works

A definition of conscience can be challenging, because a conscience is invisible. You can’t see it or touch it, but you can feel it in your mind and in your body. Your conscience knows all the rules you’ve learned about right and wrong. It knows what you’ve been taught about core values, like honesty, responsibility, and respect.

Your conscience is like a super fast computer app that compares what you are about to do against your core values to help you know if your actions are right or wrong.

It's kind of like you put what you want to say or do into the "Conscience 3000-s Analyzer", and your conscience compares what you want against what you know is right and wrong. Then, it tells you the answer in your heart and in your mind.

what is conscience

Let’s try out some scenarios and see how to define conscience. (Or, download a free worksheet with Conscience 3000-s exercises.

Scenario 1

Pretend you are in a store and there is a candy bar that you really, really want. You don’t have money and your mom might say she won’t buy it, but you still want it really badly. You reach for it and slip it into your pocket without anyone seeing.

How did you feel when you pictured that? Did your mind say something like, “That’s stealing. You shouldn’t take things without paying for them.”? Or did you feel really uncomfortable and worry about what would happen (consequences) if you took the candy? That’s your conscience!

How could you define conscience in this situation? Your conscience is the thought and the feeling that helps you remember that stealing is wrong.

Scenario 2

You are going to the grocery store with your mom when you see an old man walking down the sidewalk. He’s carrying a bag of groceries and some of the items fall out. He doesn’t seem to notice he’s lost the items.

How did you feel when you pictured that? Did your mind say something like, “You should pick up the items and give them to him.” Did you feel good in your heart about being able to help someone in need? That’s your conscience too!

In this situation, you can make this definition: a conscience is there to help you make good choices as well as keep you from making bad choices. It’s the feeling that you are doing the right thing or the wrong thing.

Learn more about what is conscience

story about conscience and honesty Read this story about conscience.
When a boy sneaks off for a secret game on his gameplayer, he learns, “Oh no! I have a conscience!” Teach children what is conscience, how to make choices they can be proud of, and how to forgive mistakes.

Download a free conscience worksheet.

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