Positive Parenting Newsfeed—a Child Trends Project—is Supported by the National Science Foundation

Raising Helpful Kids

raising helpful kids

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — How do you get your kids to be more helpful? Is it by rewarding them? Some studies have shown rewards aren’t always effective. However, there is one approach parents can take to get their kids motivated to help.

It may be as easy as baby see baby do. The researchers observed 16-month-olds during two separate experiments. In the first, babies watched adults help or not help someone reaching for an object. They found babies were more likely to help the person if they had seen an adult helping her.

Then they did the experiment again, to see if babies were really trying to help or if the babies were just imitating adults. This time, a third group of babies saw a person who had everything she needed on a table. Even though she did not need help, another adult moved extra objects from the floor to the table. Researchers found that babies were still more likely to help when they saw an adult helping someone, and less likely to help if they hadn’t. Babies from the third group who saw someone who didn’t need help fell somewhere in between. So parents, you are your child’s role model. Teach your child to help by letting them watch you help others.

Kids normally start developing helping behavior just after age one. The babies in the second study had previously played with the researcher conducting the experiment, so that may have also motivated the babies’ desire to help.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation

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