Kindness Vs. Cruelty: Helping Kids Hear The Better Angels Of Their Nature

A hardwired, us-vs.-them mentality can easily pull kids away from kindness, toward cruelty. Here's what parents can do about it.
Source: Laurent Hyrbyk for NPR

This story was adapted from an episode from a Life Kit podcast, Parenting: Raising Awesome Kids.

Are humans born kind?

We both assumed, as parents of young children, that kindness is just something our kids would pick up by osmosis, because we love them. It's a common assumption.

"We often just expect people to be kind without talking about it," says Jennifer Kotler, vice president of research and evaluation at Sesame Workshop. "We think, 'Oh, you're a good kid. You're gonna be kind.' "

Now, that's not entirely wrong. Humans are certainly born with a capacity to toward kindness in many situations.

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