Giving Makes Toddlers Happy

You might assume that toddlers don't like sharing their food or their things with others, but according to a new study you would be wrong.

Toddlers love to give because it makes them happy. I even love typing that sentence. How sweet is the thought of little happy toddlers sharing and laughing with each other?

A team of three psychologists at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, gave toddlers some treats and a few minutes later asked the toddlers to give one of their treats to a puppet. The children were also given an extra treat and asked to give this to the puppet too.

The toddlers' reactions to these requests were videotaped and then rated for happiness. The researchers concluded that the toddlers showed greater happiness when they shared their own treat than when they shared the extra treat. This suggests that this behavior is emotionally rewarding for the children.

"People tend to assume that toddlers are naturally selfish," study lead author Lara Aknin said in a university news release. "These findings show that children are actually happier giving than receiving."

This study and others like it suggests that the good feelings we have when helping others is deeply ingrained in our psyche, beginning in early childhood. 

I wonder sometimes if we could all be a little more like these toddlers, enjoying the accomplishment of giving to others instead of so focused on ourselves, the world might just be a happier place.

 The study was published in the online journal PLoS One.


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