An amazing thing happened this past weekend that I wanted to share — maybe it’s only amazing to a first time mom who’s amazed by everything, so bear with me!
We went to a music group with my 11 month old son and there are several “instruments” (wooden sticks and shakers, silk cloths) that we all have and bring with us to group. A little girl, also 11 months, crawled over to my son and tried to take a stick, which neither he nor I were bothered by. Her mother told her it wasn’t nice to take things and pulled her away from him. We continued to play and my son kept an eye on his playmate. She tried to borrow his toy again, and her mother pulled her back again which made her cry. My son crawled over and offered his toys to her with a smile.
I’ve never “taught” him to share, and he has limited experience with other kids outside of this once a week group. It just amazed me that this behavior was so innate and that he and his little playmate were communicating with each other very well without spoken language. And that these two 11 month olds could work out their play very well without our intrusion. (One more)…AND it was totally okay that I was trying to be RIE and this other mom was not. Just because we’re not coming from the same philosophy doesn’t necessarily mean that these interactions that we’re hoping to see won’t come true.
I know that these are things that we expect to see, but to see my son so observant and engaged with his playmate and to show empathy was really heartwarming — another testament to RIE. We just have to be quietly engaged and observant to see these moments and relish in them.
Thanks for bringing RIE into our lives!
For more about infant awareness, morals, empathy and the development of social intelligence, please read ‘Empathetic Civilization’: Amazing Empathetic Babies (and everything else by Alison Gopnik), The Moral Life of Babies by Paul Bloom and my posts The S Word and You’ll Be Sorry.
You might also appreciate this video of a 20 month old toddler responding empathetically to her 14 week old sister: “Infant Empathy“
Have you seen an infant or toddler demonstrate empathy?
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