ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — It’s one of the first social lessons kids learn while growing up: sharing with others is generous and makes you feel good. However, for a three-year-old, giving toys to another child may not be something they readily want to do. Now, a new study is examining how kids link generosity with their own happiness.
Learning is strongly influenced by emotions, especially in the first few years of a child’s life. Studies have shown that kindergartners who had a warm, positive relationship with their teacher were more positive about learning and coming to school. So, would positive thoughts about sharing translate to kids being happy to share? Social scientists studied children between the ages of three and six. They asked the kids how they would feel, or how would another child feel, if someone didn’t share with them. They found that the kids associated sharing with positive emotions, while not sharing with negative emotions. Also, the kids who understood what it meant to feel left out were more willing to share with others.
Parents can help kids make the generosity and happiness link by first helping them understand their own emotions. This allows them to recognize other people’s emotions. Also, allow kids to solve their own issues when it comes to sharing. Don’t just tell your child to share, but ask how they can come up with a solution to make everyone happy.
A study in China of three- and five-year-olds found that kids were even happier when they voluntarily shared instead of being told to do so. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, 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.