Tell Now If Your Toddler Is Going To Be A Considerate Adult

Every one of us have sat and pondered at some point what our children are going to be like when they grow up.

As parents, we work hard to instill good qualities in our children, to mimic the kind of behavior we would like to see in them.

Sometimes we can see early on certain traits that are strong in our child, like their impeccable stick figures revealing their artistic side. But what if you could know a trait from how they react to facial expressions?

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human cognitive and Brain Sciences at the University of Virginia have conducted a study that shows if your toddler is going to be a cooperative adult.

Romper reports on the findings:

The study, published in PLOS Biology, found that babies who take note of and pay attention to “fearful faces” are more likely to exhibit altruistic characteristics when they’re toddlers and preschoolers. Researchers looked at the eye movements of babies to take note of how much attention they gave to faces. Though their reactions to happy and mad faces didn’t have an effect on their altruistic traits, their reactions to scared faces was a different story.”

Earlier research had made associations with small children paying attention to if people were scared or nervous and prosocial behavior.

  1. Dovidio, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, says that:

Prosocial behavior represents a broad category of acts that are ‘defined by society as generally beneficial to other people and to the ongoing political system’”

We see this in toddlers all the time like when they want to cook you a fake meal, pretend to fix you up if you are sick, and cry if other children are upset.

Lead researcher on the altruistic study at University of Virginia, Tobias Grossmann, said,

From early in development, variability in altruistic helping behavior is linked to our responsiveness to seeing others in distress and brain processes implicated in attentional control.”

Altruism is being unselfish and caring about others before yourself.

While toddlers are going to instinctually operate on the basis of self-need first, many demonstrate actions that show they are generally concerned about your well-being.

Even if they are hungry, they may offer to share their lunch with you, or even if they are tired they will run to a friend who has fallen on the playground.

Maybe this is because being hungry or hurt, closely represent the outward representation of the fear emotion.

Romper reported:

A study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that as toddlers get older, they generally appear to be more cooperative sooner in an exchange with adults.”

This makes perfect sense. As toddlers get older they seem to be more aware of what is going on around them, rather than being in their own little world.

A one-year-old can see you unloading the dishwasher and not think twice about your work, but a two-year-old will see you and offer to help, or at least try.

Look at your toddler next time they are in the midst of someone in fear, or mimic a fearful face and see how they react.

You may be ahead of the curve, with an altruistic adult-to-be on your hands if they show concern when you are afraid.

There are things you can do to aid in your child becoming a caring adult, apart from studying them to see if they recognize fearful faces in others.

The top tip to teaching a toddler anything is to mimic it. Children naturally want to be just like you, whether they are trying or not.

Verbalize to your toddler what you are doing when you are being empathetic towards others, but in a way they understand.

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You can say, “See honey, the little boy fell off the slide, so we are going to see if he has any boo boos.”

Get your toddler involved in the process, because nothing gets them motivated like choice and empowerment.

If you see a little girl playing alone at the library, ask your toddler if they think they should ask them if they want to share their book.

It doesn’t have to be ginormous acts of selflessness in order to show your toddler how to be considerate of others.

Start small and watch your little one blossom into a loving and caring adult who thinks about the world outside of themselves.

Please let us know in the comments section if you have noticed your little one reacting to fearful faces, or if you have a way to teach how to be caring.