"Guilt and Atonement on the Path to Adulthood"
By John Tierney
What separates the bad eggs from the good? It is a mystery why some people grow up to be the way they are. Why do some kids grow up to be bullies, while others are perfectly polite and considerate? This is exactly what Dr. Grazyna Kochanska of the University of Iowa has been studying. She has been experimenting with young children and their reactions to certain situations, like if they break a toy that was very special to someone. Basically, the more guilt a child feels for breaking that toy, the more likely they will grow up to be considerate and courteous to those around them.
I find it very interesting all the elements that determine how a child feels or reacts to certain things. I’m not an expert in psychology or anything of the sort, but I’ve always felt a certain amount of disgust when a parent tells their child that no matter what they do, “it’s alright.” Granted you can’t very well ground a toddler for dropping the remote in the fish tank, but I believe that it is necessary to make them aware that they were wrong and it’s not “okay.” The studies that were performed at the University of Iowa focused on exactly this point. When the child broke that toy, after letting them feel remorseful for a minute, the observer would show them that it was very easy to repair it and make amends for what happened. So the child felt bad about what they had done, but they were also able to make up for it and honestly make things “alright” again.
I can believe the results of this study, because if you see a kid on the playground and he or she hits another kid and steals their toy, you could probably imagine that they won’t be the most polite person when they grow up. However, I would like to see the study of how to change or modify these behaviors, to see if by placing a child in a different environment they would not be inclined to hurt others or bully them. I have a feeling that results from this study and others like it will help form a parenting handbook of sorts.
8 years ago