When Cat Larrison's five-year-old came up with a solution, she wasn't feeling well. He approached me and licked my arm. says Larrison. It was both sweet and sloppy.
Her youngster was mimicking a dog, one of his favorite creatures. However, a dog isn't the only animal that kids might see acting "kindly." And according to experts, youngsters can learn empathy, self-esteem, patience, and other skills by watching and imitating some of that behavior.
The key seems to be that children have a built-in affinity for animals. According to psychologist Hilary Kratz of La Salle University, "Humans are complicated, thus their behaviors might have numerous layers." However, when children watch an animal perform a task, it makes complex concepts more understandable: If a dog can do this, I can do this.’”
It's crucial to remember that what could seem like "kind" behavior from animals may be adaptive behavior that promotes the animals' survival. For instance, popular movies depict tortoises assisting friends who have fallen, but researchers contend that this could be mating behavior. However, several recent research indicates that animal emotions are much more complex than previously believed.
And when your tiny scamp recognizes that action is kind, it can be enough to motivate kind deeds and the accompanying personal development. According to Kratz, "Children frequently identify characteristics in animals that they admire and wish to copy them—for example, being strong like a lion or adorable like a bunny."
"Watching animals exhibit good social skills can inspire children to do the same." Discover five animal behaviors that could encourage kindness in your children by reading on.
Young female elephants assist younger ones in learning how to stand, walk, and swim; they even react to the cries of distressed calves. It is formally referred to as "alloparenting" when nonparents offer care. The calves have a better chance of surviving thanks to the additional mothering, and the young people learn how to be parents.
How to get your kid to behave like an elephant: Your child can demonstrate nurturing behavior even if they are not yet old enough to babysit. If your child notices someone else struggling with reading, for example, encourage them to step in and assist.
One of my children has recently learned to read, so she is assisting her younger sibling with sight words, according to Kratz. You may also give your child the responsibility of taking care of a pet, such as giving it a weekly brushing (or, for very young children, putting a doll to bed).
What kids will gain: By attending to another person's needs, kids learn to consider what that person is experiencing and thinking. According to Kratz, "it can foster patience and compassion." According to Jacqueline Rhew, cohost of the Successful Parenting podcast and a licensed clinical professional counselor, a child who is nurtured also learns responsibility, which boosts confidence.
Because the older child will be able to consider things that were challenging for them when they were younger but are no longer so, providing care can help foster empathy. Even still-developing skills in your children can be strengthened by it. Teaching someone else a skill is one of the finest methods to consolidate learning, according to Kratz.
Be as sociable as an orca.
Orcas from various pods interact with one another in the water through splashing, fighting, and vocalizing. Researchers believe that these cordial social connections may aid orca groups in resolving their conflicts amicably to avoid fighting.
How to get your kid to behave like an orca: It can be daunting for kids to be encouraged to socialize with kids they might not often hang out with. Take some cautious first steps, then release them in the park with new youngsters. This can be going to a friend's school's sporting event, participating in community fundraising, or going to a cultural event. A dog wedding was attended by my daughter, Rhew claims. She enjoyed it, even if it may sound foolish, and many other kids from different schools came together for the event.
What they'll gain: According to Rhew, getting youngsters to interact with kids from various social or ethnic groups can be beneficial for the kid. It demonstrates that we can cherish our diversity as much as our commonalities, she adds. However, making connections with others also makes people feel included, which can significantly increase self-esteem.
Share like a bonobo
Both in the wild and captivity, these well-known social apes have been seen feeding one another. That makes sense if they are assisting group members with feeding, but these apes have been observed sharing food with outsiders, almost as if they are doing so out of goodwill.
How to get your kid to behave like a bonobo: Both Rhew and Kratz stress the value of providing children the chance to contribute rather than forcing them to do so. This could mean offering a large bag of goodies designed for sharing or recommending a game that requires turn-taking. It's okay if they choose not to share at times. It "teaches that their needs and wants are also significant," according to Kratz.
What they stand to gain, according to Rhew, is the ability to manage their emotions when confronted with something they truly, really want. When a child's sister is holding their favorite doll or when their best friend is hogging the gaming controller, they should be encouraged to maintain their composure and patience. Children will become better at maintaining composure in these circumstances the more they share.
Rhew also offers this additional reason why sharing is good for your kid: "If a kid can share and demonstrate empathy, other kids will want to be around that kid."
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