Sharing

“We think children are born with a skeleton of general expectations about fairness,” explains Sloane, “and these principles and concepts get shaped in different ways depending on the culture and the environment they’re brought up in.” Some cultures value sharing more than others, but the ideas that resources should be equally distributed and rewards allocated according to effort are innate and universal.

Other survival instincts can intervene. Self-interest is one, as is loyalty to the in-group — your family, your tribe, your team. It’s much harder to abide by that abstract sense of fairness when you want all the cookies — or your team is hungry. That’s why children need reminders to share and practice in the discipline of doing the right thing in spite of their desires.

Still, says Sloane, “helping children behave more morally may not be as hard as it would be if they didn’t have that skeleton of expectations.”

This innate moral sense might also explain the power of early trauma, Sloane says. Aside from fairness, research has shown that small children expect people not to harm others and to help others in distress. “If they witness events that violate those expectations in extreme ways, it could explain why these events have such negative and enduring consequences.” -Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a story, scene, or poem about children using the information in the study quoted above.

Journaling Prompt: What are your expectations about fairness and sharing? How do your expectations match up with the reality in your family? in your workplace? in your social circle?

Art Prompt: Children Sharing

Photo Credit: .jocelyn. on Flickr

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