About Me

My photo
I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three, grand mother of three, and have been married to the same man for 42 years. I subscribe to Dr. PM Forni's concept of Civility. I was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in the 'burbs. I love soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the Phillies, the Eagles, and San Diego. I love being Mom, Aunt Kathy, Nona Kathy, and Teacher. I spend a lot of time in my gardens in the spring and summer, and in the winter I plan what I'm going to plant. I also am an avid reader and photographer.

Translator!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Case for Altruism

It had always been surmised that two-year olds were the epitome of selfishness:  the strong will and the tantrums; the 'terrible twos' frequently used as evidence.  I've read several pieces, however, that strongly dispute this.  In one study, toddlers sitting with their mothers were subjected to videos of both happy and crying babies.  While the happy babies evoked recognition and smiles, the distress of the crying infants clearly affected discomfort.  The toddlers, to a one, turned to their mothers and clearly sought intervention.  When none came, the toddlers themselves became distressed.  Even more amazingly, they tried to comfort one another.

Our middle daughter is blessed with an 18-month old daughter and a 7-year old stepson.  Last Saturday, the step son was upset because during his touch football game, a touchdown he had made was taken back because of some infraction.  After the game, my daughter first put the baby in her car seat, then took a still crying, 'K-bub', around to the other side to strap him into his car seat.  She consoled him as best she could, got him into his seat and thought all was well.  As she got into the car, however, what met her was a total MELTDOWN.  Not only was our football player in tears, the baby was wailing, too.  "K-BUB CRYIN!!!"   "K-BUB CRYIN!!!" was all M could make out.  When he'd stop, she'd stop.  But the baby watched him closely and any sign of distress brought her again to tears.

A long ride home, yes, but yet more proof that we are all innately  kind.

8 comments:

susansmusings said...

Oh, what a sweet girl.

Young children can be very selfish...after all, don't we all want attention? I have also noticed that they are also some of the most empathetic people around. It seems to me that people have to learn to be uncaring...

Amy said...

This is such a sweet storey! I love how sad the little girl was that "K-bub" was crying. It has always amazed me how young children are when they are influenced by the behavior of others. It is a nice alternative idea to the "terrible-twos".
On a different note, it's so hard to explain to children how things work in the world, ie the 7-year old's being taken back. Life's lesson are harsh when learned. It's got to be one of the more difficult aspects of being a parent.

A problem I don't have with fur-kids! =o)

Lena said...

Awww...very sweet story. Hard on mom, but so sweet to see how the baby reacted to her brother's unhappiness.

Cheryl said...

I like the idea that we are all innately kind. I'm not sure if that applies to teenage girls and their mothers.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Oh, this story touches me deeply. What a sweet little girl.

Jamie said...

What a sweet story. Often, the perception that a two year old is selfish is all that is talked about. Thanks for taking the time to write this...

Gilly said...

What a lovely story! I do hope K-bub stopped crying on the way home - a car full of wails would be a nightmare!

And he probably learned a lesson, too, that his tears affect others - we all have to learn not to be selfish.

Karen :-) said...

A think a crying baby is one of the most distressful sounds for any age we are!

Cute story about the kids!