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Going to Grandma’s

When Grandma, or someone in a home other than yours, is going to watch your child, try to ease the transition by doing three little things that will be big things to you child.

  1. Show your child around the house to the places they will be allowed to go.  Telling them about everything you can think of.  With older children, 2 and up- the kitchen is very interesting.  Show them snacks they can have later(a banana, pear, granola cookie). During the tour tell your child where you are going in little child terms, (Mommy is getting a hair cut, kids can’t go where there are sharp scissors or Mommy and daddy need to meet some other grown ups, we are not able to bring you because no one else can bring their children.) – children understand more about reason and fairness than we give them credit for.  This is a well studied fact, even very small children.
  2. Have the care giver repeat the same tour before you leave with you in tow.  When your child finds something of interest have your care giver say “We have to let Mommy and Daddy get going so we can come and play with that.”  Have the caregiver ask your child if they like music (or some other thing the parents know they like, use that as the second redirect.),”and we have to turn on some music.”
  3. Children 3 and up – Find a window that your child can watch the car leave from.  Take the child to the window and have them wave and blow kisses, saying “See you soon. We are going to have fun!”  Care givers should go immediately to the thing the child found interesting during the tour.

Children who have more information do much better than ones getting dropped off with a bag and a good luck, no matter how old they are.  They may still cry a little but fussing should be greatly reduced.

* Scientific American summary blog (one of many)

Cooperation Is Child’s Play

By Krystal D’Costa | October 10, 2011

Cooperation confounds us: Humans are the only members of the animal kingdom to display this tendency to the extent that we do, and it’s an expensive endeavor with no guarantee of reciprocal rewards. While we continue to look for answers about how and why cooperation may have emerged in human social and cultural evolution, we are beginning to trace the developmental roots of prosocial behaviors.

A recent PLoS paper presents evidence that children as young as 15 months old may have a rudimentary sense of fairness. Adults regularly appear to include fairness measures when making decisions. You might not believe it’s true, but there’s proof: Neuroimaging highlights increased activity in the reward regions of our brains when we consider fair offers and increased activity in the amygdala when we’re faced with unfair options. To be able to weigh fairness and unfairness, we have to have a sense of of the psychological and social state of other. Such “other-regarding” behavior is believed to be a human tendency, although it remains to be confirmed whether it is specifically a human trait. However, it was commonly held that other-regarding behavior emerged late in development—as something we learned. But a growing body of research keeps pushing back the age at which these tendencies are exhibited.

For example, children as young as 3.5 years will distribute resources fairly, and at 25 months, toddlers will share resources with adults. Researchers Schmidt and Sommerville found that 15 month old infants can identify events that deviate from expectations with regard to fairness and are likely to share resources requested by an adult. In a violation of expectations task (VOE), infants looked longer at events that deviated from the norm—in this case, when milk or crackers were unevenly distributed. They were also more likely to share a toy with an adult who requested the item.

Cooperative behaviors may play an important role in the development of cohesive social groups, allowing larger and larger groups of genetically unrelated individuals to establish and abide by shared norms. The earlier we can trace this behavior, the more we may come to understand about how unique this tendency may be to humans.

If this behavior emerges early in children, what happens as we get older? Adults may weigh fairness and unfairness, but they do not always act in accordance with their judgments. Children, for their part, also do not always take the more altruistic path. For example, in the sharing task discussed above, the infants had two toys, a preferred one which they favored and one they did not. They were just as likely to share the favored toy (altruistic sharing) as the unpreferred one (selfish sharing), which might suggest a spectrum along which altruistic decisions are made. How do we develop this scale? Is it the outcome of socialization? Or are we wired to map this ourselves?

Schmidt, M., & Sommerville, J. (2011). Fairness Expectations and Altruistic Sharing in 15-Month-Old Human Infants PLoS ONE, 6 (10) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023223

Krystal D'CostaAbout the Author: Krystal D’Costa is an anthropologist working in digital media in New York City. You can follow AiP on Facebook. Follow on Twitter @krystaldcosta.



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