Throughout our day, as educators and as parents, we strive to model, demonstrate, and teach our children to be altruistic. It is a difficult concept for young children, who are, appropriately, self-centered. According to various developmental theories on morality (e.g., Piaget, Kohlberg), young children still lack the ability to fully appreciate and understand others’ points of view. In fact, some adults I know still demonstrate this inability at times! Kidding aside, it is a skill needing cultivation to thrive. As children grow, and are exposed to opportunities to do good for others, they may experience “helper’s high”, a phenomenon referring to the pleasure in giving, rather than receiving. Research at Emory University found that the pleasure centers in the brain are activated as if you were the recipient of the good deed.
Last week, my 10 year-old daughter, experienced this “helper’s high”. One of her friends had forgotten to bring money to purchase goodies at the school’s bake sale. My daughter bought him the chocolate doughnut he was eyeing. She told me about it, and said, “After I gave it to him, I felt really happy!” #proudmama! It is moments like these, and hopefully many more to come, that we work towards every day. We teach our children to think of others, to care for others, and do for others…and thankfully, they do.
At Harbor, I witness acts of kindness, selflessness, and dare I say, altruism. This is not by accident. By fostering relationships between students, between classes, and between students and teachers, we are expanding the opportunities to witness and practice kindness. We are one big Harbor family and if nothing else, we are learning to take care of one another. Like in any family, you may not get along with everybody, you may have differences of opinion, you may not have chosen to be friends…but family is family. When the going gets rough, we back each other up!