My preschooler offered to share his apple plates with us when we came home from school yesterday. In this spontaneous moment of generosity I smiled and felt encouraged; Maybe, I thought, I really internalized our conversation about sharing and usability.
We, the parents, will try different strategies for the children to be generous, but some new research suggests that the division may also depend on the child’s mood.
In a new study, Rui Guo and his colleagues examined the sadness of nearly 100 children aged five and six in northern China. In a group, the children observed Simba and his father, Lion King Mufasa, in a daily conversation about the rules of nature. In the other group, the children saw Simba crying when he realized his father was dead.
The researchers then urged the children to play with two dolls. A doll was rich; she had a sticker with stickers; The other puppet was bad, he only had one sticker. The researchers gave the kids chips, stickers that they could stick to or share the dolls. After filling three sets of decisions to split two, three or four points, the researchers asked the children: “Why did you share this way?” And “Which doll do you like best and why?
Generally, the researchers discovered that the children, after looking at the sad video, had fewer stickers than neutral films. The girls immediately shared the two video clips. Also, after the boring video, the boys shared fewer stickers than the girls.
By explaining their joint decisions, the boys were more confident after seeing the sad video in relation to the neutral video. It was that their reasons were centered on their own preferences, such as “I want more stickers” or “I like” than other reasons like “It looks good”. “or” it’s good to share. “On the other hand, for neutral and sad videos, there was no difference in the girls’ grounds.
“Personal difficulties can increase children’s attention, based on children’s understanding,” explains Guo and his colleagues. On the other hand, “women are more likely than men to use interpersonal emotional regulation to cope with negative emotions and seek greater emotional or social support.”
However, fatigue has not affected how boys or girls handle rich and poor. The majority of boys and girls (68%) prefer the rich. However, there was no difference in the number of stickers shared by children with rich and poor dolls after viewing the video.
“This statement showed that these children had developed egalitarianism and concern for the poor,” Guo and his colleagues explained.
The researchers believe that the cultural context can play a role here. A study by young American children showed that they wanted to share more with the poor than the rich, but another study showed that Chinese day care centers prefer a fair distribution.
Guo and his colleagues wrote: “Collectivism in Chinese culture encourages people to spread equally to maintain close relationships with others.”
What do the results of these studies mean for parents around the world? They remind us that there are different ways to respond to negative emotions and that we can encourage children to benefit one or the other.
Sometimes negative emotions (like fear) force us to gather defense resources and be more cautious of potential threats. In other cases, negative emotions (such as grief or loneliness) can lead us to reach others and strengthen relationships.
We can be aware of the various messages we transmit to our sons and daughters, both in our words and in our own example, about fatigue and how to deal with it. For example, since it is difficult to see our sad children, we try to distract them to help them overcome their pain. But sometimes it is better to work with them to recognize and accept them.
As far as I’m concerned, I do everything I can to help my preschool see all his feelings, including his grief.