Young Kids Know How to Share but Choose Not To Taken from TIMES online “Health & Family”
Learning to share is one thing, but getting children to do it is another.
From early on, moms and dads drill the importance of taking turns and sharing toys and other bounty into their young charges; sharing, after all, shows caring.
But as any social scientist can tell you, the gap between knowing how to act and actually doing it can be vast, which was confirmed by the latest study on how young children learn the rules of sharing.
The good news first: even kids as young as age 3 understand that sharing is important. The bad news? They don’t really care. Although preschoolers can appreciate sharing as a social norm, they don’t really embrace the principle until they’re at least 7, according to the study, published in the journal PLOS One.
“Sharing is a hot topic,” says Craig Smith, lead author and a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Michigan’s department of psychology. “If you look at studies that show what kids fight about, it’s sharing. Given a resource and the chance to split it equally, they don’t share.”
Smith’s is the first study to ask children both about their sharing sentiments in theory and — regardless of how they felt about it — whether they did it in practice. “We were able to reveal the gap between what kids say they want to do and what they do,” says Smith.
The researchers used a childhood favorite — stickers — to reach their conclusion. To pump up the desirability factor, they used scratch-and-sniff varieties. “We tried to up the excitement level with the smell,” explains Smith.
When he gave a group of 102 children ages 3 to 8 these stickers and asked them their opinion of sharing, all of the kids said they should divide the stickers equally and that other kids should do the same. But when the proverbial push came to shove, the younger kids warmed to sharing only in theory. It wasn’t until they reached ages 7 to 8 that they practiced what they preached.
It’s not that the youngest didn’t know how to share; they may simply have been unable to control their natural impulse to keep the stickers as well as older children did and actually take the step of giving up some of their bounty to others.
To test that hypothesis of poor impulse control, the researchers gave the children a picture of the sun and moon and instructed them to say “night” when they gazed at the sun and “day” when they looked at the moon — an exercise that required exercising control over saying what made sense. The older kids were more successful, proving, not surprisingly, that impulse control improves with age. The findings also track with what scientists know about the development of the prefrontal area of the brain, which is responsible for impulse control and self-regulation and develops rapidly in childhood.
At least the children were honest about their intentions. In another experiment, both younger and older kids were able to accurately predict how they’d behave. Children toward the older end of the spectrum predicted that given the chance, they’d share and share alike; younger kids ages 3 to 6 said they’d put themselves first. “The youngest kids were most likely to hoard and the oldest kids were most likely to evenly split the stickers,” says Smith. “The youngest kids have this odd self-awareness and were able to correctly predict their own lack of sharing.”
The data support previous research done on measuring an emotion related to sharing — empathy — among children. Among a group of 6- and 9-year olds who survived a devastating earthquake in China’s Sichuan province in 2008, the older children were more likely to share stickers given to them by researchers than the younger ones were.
Let us find out what is the Islamic progress on understanding our children as well the recommended child-rearing techniques:
Highlighting Prof. Madya Dr. Sharifah Hayati Syed Ismail who is as a Lecturer at the Academy of Islamic Studies of Malaya University (UM), she holds a Degree in Syariah (Malaya University) and Comparative Law (IIUM) and PhD in Comparative Policy (Bristol University, England). Her portfolio includes Head of Department of Islamic Politics (UM), had been a host for Tijarah Ramadan and al-Tijarah (TV1), panelist for Forum Perdana Ehwal Islam (TV1) and Halaqah (TV3), invited speaker for Iktibar TsunamiIktibar Hijrah (Astro Oasis), jury for Reality Programme Adik-adikku, Advisor for National Women Charter Draft and Syariah Journal, and Resource Person for Islamic Leadership Conference at Asian Institute of Management (Manila).
Among our local speakers include:
Ustaz Muhammad Zahid Mohd Zin who completed his early Islamic studies at Madrasah Al Junied Al Islamiah in Singapore. He furthered his Islamic studies at the Abou Nour Institute in Damascus, Syria, for 5 years. Upon returning to Singapore in 2008, he worked full-time at Masjid Muhajirin as its Imam Executive for 2 years. In 2010, Ustaz Zahid joined Badan Agama dan Pelajaran Radi Mas (BAPA) as its Head of Tradisi Halaqah & PFDM (Programmes For Disabled Muslims). Among his role is to plan and coordinate programmes for the disabled community, while heading the Tradisi Halaqah department which conducts and organises traditional Islamic classes for adults. Ustaz Zahid is actively involved in various da’wah activities, delivering public and community talks. He is also a member of a famous qasidah group, Madeehul Mustafa. He is also a Naib Kadi at the Registry of Muslim Marriages of Singapore.
Ustaz Mohamed Feisal Mohamed Hassan is an Associate Research Fellow at the International Centre for Poltical Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. He is also a member of the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) Secretariat and a Religious Rehabilitation Counselor. His professional interests are in the areas of terrorist rehabilitation, counter-ideology, and prison-radicalization. He has presented widely on these issues including in the US, UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and others. He has also visited detainee centres in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Indonesia, Southern Thailand and the Philippines to conduct field work. As a RRG counselor, he counsels Jemaah Islamiyah detainees and their family members. The RRG is a voluntary group of Singaporean religious teachers and scholars that focuses in countering the ideology of Jemaah Islamiyah detainees through the process of religious counseling. He graduated from the International Islamic University Malaysia with a Honours Degree in Philosophy. He obtained his Master of Arts Degree from the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC), Malaysia. His thesis is entitled “Relevance of al-Ghazali’s Doctrine of al-Wasat (The Desired Balanced Middle Way) in Countering the ideologies of Extremists wth special reference to the Jemaah Islamiyah in Singapore”. He has also recently graduated with an MSc in International Relations from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. He also volunteers as an Assistant Secretary of Khadijah Mosque Management Board in Singapore.
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