Children tend to be more quick to act on their grudges and slow to return favors, according to a new study, but researchers said children can learn how to give back.
The study, which included a total of 330 children, was conducted by the Child Rends News Service and was designed to find out if kids understand the idea of reciprocity. Scientists designed a computer game for 4- to 8-year-olds. In one experiment, another player gave the participants a sticker as an act of kindness. When the participants received an extra sticker to give away themselves, they consistently offered it to a random player – not the player who gave them the prize. But when another player stole their sticker, they were quick to steal it back from that player. After hearing a story about reciprocity, the kids were more likely to return the favor to the person who was kind to them, which scientists suggest the idea of reciprocity can be taught.
The holiday season can be a good time to teach and encourage your children to give back. Here are a few ways you can get your kids thinking about giving back, according to CuriousWorld.com:
1. Encourage creative thinking: Ask your children how they would like to give back this season. You may be surprised at what they come up with. Following through on their ideas will help build their confidence and commitment to the activity.
2. Begin at home: Make a “Giving Book” with your child. Think of five things she would enjoy doing for someone at home or for a neighbor or relative. Write or draw these activities on index cards, decorate the cards and staple them together. This is a gift that keeps on giving and extends the joy and learning beyond the holidays.
3. Adopt a family: Many organizations have programs where your family can help a family in need over the holidays. Have your family plan together what you will buy or make. This can include making cards with your child, selecting the gifts, wrapping them, etc. Talk about how the adopted family will feel and how your child feels during this activity.
4. Go beyond money: Donating part of an allowance is a great way to teach your child the importance of sharing. However, it’s also important to go beyond the money and teach additional ways people can give. Donating time and effort is just as important.
5. Talk about emotions: After your child spends time giving back, ask him how he feels. Most likely he will have a strong positive response. Help him make the connection of that good feeling to giving back. This will encourage your child to repeat the experience.