Psychologist Sara Valencia Botto, who has been working on early childhood development, recently explained in a Ted Talk about how children begin to notice other people’s opinions and the affect it has on their own behaviour.
To analyse this, Botto designed a game for children called The Robot Task to find out when kids begin to be sensitive to the evaluation of others. “Specifically, the robot task captures when children, like adults, strategically modify their behaviour when others are watching…So, as the data suggests, we found that children’s button-pressing behaviour was indeed influenced by the values and instructions of the experimenter,” she said.
Children become sensitive to the values we place on objects and behaviour from an early age, suggested Botto. “Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re constantly communicating values to those around us… I mean that we are constantly showing others, specifically our children, what is likeable, valuable and praiseworthy, and what is not. And a lot of the times, we actually do this without even noticing it. Psychologists study behaviour to explore the contents of the mind, because our behaviour often reflects our beliefs, our values and our desires,” she pointed out.
Parents, therefore, should be mindful of the values that they project in their day-to-day interactions. “For example, what value is being broadcasted when we spend more time smiling at our phone than smiling with other people? Likewise, consider how your own behaviour has been shaped by those around you, in ways you might not have considered before,” Botto explained.
Watch the video here: