Netflix Twelve Part Series    ‘Babies’ Episode: #12 Toddlers

Researchers reveal the social skills toddlers naturally possess, abilities ultimately separating humans from other species.

The scientists in this episode research inner motivations and understanding of toddlers of differing ages.  Their results surprised them.  At much earlier ages than expected children understand someone is in need and want to help.  These findings coincide with the findings of the previous episode when very young children were shown puppet shows of helpers and hinderers.

It is fascinating to see in research what parents are aware of in daily life.  Children model the behavior they witness.  

Alison Gopnik, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, USA Berkeley, USA

When do children begin to understand that others like things differing from their own preferences?  Ms. Gopnik’s son understood at 2 that she liked a pineapple dessert while he did not. Toddlers are very good at reading facial expression, voice intimation, etc.

Experiment:  Will babies give the treat the adult likes or the treat they like?

The older children, 16 – 24 months of age will give you the one you like even if they don’t like it.  They have a clearer idea of the desires of others.   70% of the time they give you what you like.

Felix Warneken,  Associate professor of Psychology. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Cooperation, team work, altruistic behavior, for the good of others: What is the origin of these behaviors?  To what extent would toddlers help?  They have the desire to help and support from very young ages.  Warneken ran several experiments.  He found even chimpanzees have a communal group understanding of helping each other.  This is true in many species.

Laura Schulz, Professor of Cognitive Sciences. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts,   USA

How do children learn so much so quickly? Kids watch adults doing things.  How hard are adults trying to accomplish the task they are workin on?  Kids learn how hard to try.  Then children try.  They have a different toy/project so they can’t imitate.  They have to try themselves. The adults leave. How long do the kids persist?  He keeps trying…..  When he saw adults struggle they were highly motivated to keep trying.  The toddlers took the ques from adults.  Working very hard when the adults did!  When older these kids work harder for their goals.

We have housed international students over the years. When beginning on this journey we were told American youth are approximately 5 years more mature than students of their same age from other countries. This information has proven true. Why are American children more mature than kids of the same age from other places? I believe it is that American children are expected to carry their own weight around the house at younger ages. They are expected to clean up their rooms. put away dirty clothing, make their beds, dress themselves and more. In other countries others are hired to do these things for children. Because of this they do not learn to do them. There are also countries where the mothers take care of these chores. How then do children learn them?

Shared social community is obvious even to young children.  Families teach these values and behaviors to their children.  Children learn to practice these altruistic behaviors from birth.  Model well, your children are always watching.

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