Allowing nursery children to make a choice on whether or not to share helps them to become a more sharing person in the future.
A study at Cornell University published in Psychological Science tested children aged between three and five using a puppet called “Duggie” which was feeling sad. Some children were given a difficult choice of sharing a sticker with the puppet or keeping it for themselves. Others were given the easier choice of sharing or putting it away. A third group were told to share.
Later the children were introduced to another sad puppet called “Ellie” and were given the option of how many stickers to share, if any, up to three.
The children who had made the difficult choice shared more stickers than the children from the other two groups who had either been forced to share or had the easier choice to make.
Nadia Chenyak, a psychologist who co-wrote the study, said “Once children made the difficult decision to give up something for someone else they were more generous, not less, later on”. She says that given the emphasis we place on choice during childhood it’s important to know how choices influence children.
So it’s good to share – but only if you really want to.