in Jean Piaget's theory of moral development, the child, typically 10 years of age or older, eventually understands that rules and laws are not permanent, fixed properties of the world but rather are flexible, modifiable entities created by people. The child gradually relies less on parental authority and more on individual and independent morality and learns that intentions, not consequences or the likelihood of punishment, are important in determining the morality of an act.

AUTONOMOUS STAGE: "The autonomous stage of development is characterized by a decreasing reliance on others."