Out of the Mouths of Babes...

On the basis of some recent studies, Yale psychologist Paul Bloom concludes that humans are born with a hard-wired morality. He thinks that a deep sense of good and evil is bred in the bones. Experiments with babies and toddlers found that they are able to judge goodness and badness in the behaviour of others. Researchers also found them desiring to reward the good and punish the bad. They even act to help those in distress and they feel guilt, pride and righteous anger.

These tentative findings are encouraging for those of us who believe that given the right role models and education, children will become kind and gracious adults. They show that babies and toddlers are sensitive to third party interactions of a positive and negative nature, and according to Bloom, this influences how they behave toward others and later on, how they talk about them. They are useful moral foundations, to say the least.


For a year now we have published a newsletter for the primary school children called Kindsville Times. Our many fans include a 10 year-old who writes: “I love your issues.” In each edition we introduce Singa and his friends, teaching our young readers values such as gratitude, empathy, compassion, generosity and so on. We encourage them to write to Singa about their actions, and here is a sampling of the more than 150 received so far:


A letter from a 7 year-old:


Another 7 year-old drew a basket of compassion. Notice that it is very inclusive: “mom, dad, sis, bro, aunt, friends, needy and animals”:


An 8 year-old created the following:


Here is another drawing by a 9 year-old. There are 3 scenarios. First, there is a girl crossing the road when the “green man” is on. In the middle is an old lady who says “It’s so heavy”. And the 9-year old says, “I’ll give you a hand!” Her friend Charleen chimes in, “I’ll give you a hand!” And lastly, there are 3 passengers seated in a MRT train, I presume. One is sleeping, another man who is labelled “Father” in the middle, and a woman labelled “Passenger”. There is an old man standing and holding on to the vertical bar. The “Father” says, “You can have my seat”, and the old man responds, “Thank you.”

Here is another drawing by a 10 year-old:



An 11-year old writes about her feeling of sympathy and anger when she witnessed a particular unkind situation:


A 12-year old came up with a simple 3-step to Kindness program for our consideration:


Kindness is not only a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see. It is also the language of children. They are born with a sense of kindness in their bones and they can teach us more than a thing or two about kindness.

Comments

  1. Love the innocence of the children. Sg would be a kinder place if we live simply - like a child.

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    1. Yes, indeed. We have lots to learn from a child. Notice how a child laughs easily? I saw a beuatiful video of a baby laughing at everything!

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  2. we can learn so much from children! they have drawn out various ways to be kind. i'm sure all of us are able to do a few kind deeds everyday as long as we keep our eyes open to our surroundings (:

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    1. Did you know that studies have shown that even when we simply count kind deeds, we increase our sense of well-being?

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  3. Agree with the fact that children can simply differentiate good and bad, but as they face different kinds of influences through their growing years,that's when kindness becomes 'complicated'. A young child instinctively knows that it is only right to give up your seat to someone in need, but I have seen several cases where adults chose to ignore the fact that an old lady or a pregnant woman is standing right in front of them. Reason can stem from many kinds such as selfishness or bystander effect; someone else should do it, not me!

    Always good to look at the works of children and remind myself of the simplicity of kindness.

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    1. Children do look to adults for guidance. At some point, they hero-worship adults. Unfortunately, some of us are not always good role models. This is very sad because our conduct either reinforces what they learn in school about good conduct or we undermine them. We need to be more conscious of the influence we exert on the kids.

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  4. Kids are so endearing.. I cant understand how they can become so rebellious when they reach their teenage years! Skm should focus on teens!

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    1. Psychologists tell us that teenagers do go through a period of inner struggle to assert their independence. In some ways, it is an identity crisis of sorts. During that period some would do exactly the opposite of what adults expect of them. I have a daughter who "rebelled" from 14 through 22. Dropped out of school, became a punk and left home. We could do absolutely nothing but love her unconditionally. Her elder sister and younger brother passed through the adolescent years without any serious difficulties. Today, she is doing well as an academic and potter in Canada. And ironically,because she has been through a period of "rebellion", she has become much more affectionate to us than her siblings! If you write me I will be glad to send you an article I wrote about her.
      And yes, SKM does work with teens in secondary schools, JCs, Polys and Unis.

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