Early Child Development: Understanding Other Points of View Starts With Mom

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Prespective-taking can help prevent the plight of future refugees like these in Rowanda: Photo by Julien Harneis

Child Development: Society Benefits From Understanding

Perspective-taking is an important tool in reducing misunderstandings, arguments, and peer pressure. Children who develop these skills are able to use them to understand the feelings and thoughts of others more easily and quickly than children that do not develop these skills. Dr. Farrant told Decoded Science about the social impact of these findings:

I think that the most important social implication of this research is that it indicates that the way that parents interact with and talk to their children plays an important role in the development of children’s perspective-taking skills. Many of the world’s problems involve a failure to take the perspective of other people. Wars, poverty, discrimination, anti-social behavior, inequality, and human induced climate change are all examples of where we fail to put ourselves “in someone else’s shoes.” This highlights just how important it is that we understand how people develop the ability to take someone else’s perspective. By putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes more often we make it more likely that our children will be able to do the same.

The large number of social problems which are occurring today will be hard to solve, but understanding how our actions and words impact others can be a vital starting point towards resolving these issues. Some solutions for tomorrow may have started with our mothers, when we were very young children.

References:

Farrant, B., Maybery, M., Fletcher, J. Language, Cognitive Flexibility, and Explicit False Belief Understanding: Longitudinal Analysis in Typical Development and Specific Language Impairment. (2011). Journal of Child Development. Accessed December 24, 2011.

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