Bases on research done by Tasimi, Arber., & Young, Liane. (2016) written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.
Young children 2-3 years old often share their toys and help others. How do we keep their generosity going?
Some adults, after thinking of past good deeds, seem to give themselves moral credit and thus justify future selfish behavior. Do children use their past good deeds to feel so confident in their moral goodness that they then justify not sharing?
Psychology researchers from Yale and Boston College examined whether children between the ages of 6 to 8 became more or less generous after telling about a time they were nice to someone, or when they were mean, compared to children who were asked to only tell about a neutral time watching a movie.
Results showed that children became more generous after relating a time in which they were nice to someone. Moreover, children, unlike adults, when recalling multiple prior prosocial behaviors were even more generous. This generosity was not encouraged by instructing children on prosocial behavior as there was no increase in generosity after recalling good deeds by others. They also did not give less after recalling a negative behavior.
Encourage generosity. Ask children to tell you about times they helped or shared what they had with others.
Tasimi, A., & Young, L. (2016). Memories of good deeds past: The reinforcing power of prosocial behavior in children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 147, 159-166.