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Early Education

"Asking Children to 'Be Helpers' Can Backfire After Setbacks"

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Young children are more likely to persist in a difficult task if adults frame the task as something to do—such as "helping," rather than a way to be, like "helpful."

That's the upshot of a new study in the journal Child Development, in which New York University researchers conducted a series of experiments asking 4- and 5-year-olds to either "help" or "be helpers" for a researcher cleaning up toys. They were asked to pick up a box that had been designed to break and spill when lifted. After that experience, children who had been asked to help were equally likely to help again, even when it didn't benefit them, while children asked to "be helpers" helped again only when helping was either not challenging or was in their own interest.

Vol. 38, Issue 06, Page 5

Published in Print: September 26, 2018, as Early Education
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