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Study: Children Learn to Be Helpful by Seeing Helpful Adults

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Study: Children Learn to Be Helpful by Seeing Helpful Adults

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Children 16 months old begin to imitate acts of helping others, such as handing toys to siblings or handing an object to a parent that is out of reach, according to researchers at the University of Munster and Free University Berlin in Germany. Their findings were published in the journal Child Development.

In the study, researchers looked at 91 infants in Germany. Some babies repeatedly observed an adult retrieving an object for another person who indicated needing help, whereas other children had not. The infants that witnessed the helpful actions of adults were many times more likely to reach for an object when an adult indicated needing help reaching it.

“These findings tell us that children’s prosocial development may be affected not only by direct and active structuring of helping situations by others, as when parents offer suggestions to babies to help someone, but also through learning by observing people who help others,” Nils Schuhmacher, lead author of the research, stated.

Despite the simple premise of the study, it proves the importance of parents setting positive examples for their childreneven from a young age. This principle is explained among other vital childrearing points in our book Train Your Children God’s Way.

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