After my affection post yesterday, I realized that I also need to start really modeling altruism for my toddler too. We all want our little ones to learn how to share, and it's been a constant struggle at this young toddler age since they don't quite get it yet. Toys are always being taken away from each other, well, grabbed is more like it and then the tears come!
Sigh, what as a parent can we do to teach them how to be caring towards others and learn to share while they are still in diapers?
Let's start with the definition of Altruism: a genuine concern for the welfare of other people and a willingness to act on that concern such as sharing, caring, cooperating and helping others.
A far as expecting your toddler to know how to share right now, they're just not there yet to completely understand and be able to reciprocate, but there are tips you can do to help encourage them and teach them how to be altruistic:
-Researchers have found that as a parent, if you use more physical acts to discipline wrong doings, such as moving your child away from their infant sibling as they try to swat them, or using verbal statements such as "I said stop that!" then you will tend to have a less compassionate toddler
-To encourage your child to be more on the highly compassionate side, parents need to use more 'feelings explanations' when disciplining hurtful actions. For example, if your child hit another child over a toy, tell them, "When you hit Matt, you made him cry, it's not nice to hit our friends" or "it makes Ava sad when you take her toy" or "it's not nice to bite, it hurts her arm"
Using these 'feeling explanations' are a form of empathy training. When the parent disciplines the child, it will cause them distress, which then causes them to pay attention to the discomfort of another person. They learn to associate their own distress with that of the victim=empathy. Make sense?
-To go above and beyond, teach your child how to care for others by volunteer work, making contributions to charities, etc. Look up some local charities such as a food drive or planting a garden, and take your child so they can learn from you how to care for others less fortunate
Remember to keep in mind though, that toddlers and preschool aged children are in the egocentric stage: they are more self centered and concern is mostly focused on themselves. I know, it sounds super selfish, but remember that it is a stage that all preschoolers go through. They have to go through this stage to reach the next one. Kind of like they have to learn to sit up before they can crawl, then walk, etc.
Just keep modeling for them and they will learn from you! :)