Young children will get square if they feel they have been badly treated by others.
Young children will get square if they feel they have been badly treated by others.

Why you shouldn’t mess with kids

REVENGE is sweet for little kids.

New research has revealed that children aged four to eight are inclined to look for payback when they feel slighted.

But the researchers in the study published in Psychological Science say the kids need for retribution is driven by self-protection, it's a defence mechanism.

"Kids are not out to get people. They're sending a signal to the person but also to the broader world that 'I'm not a sucker,'" author Peter Blake, a Boston University associate professor of psychological and brain sciences said.

His team started off examining how kids pay back kindness but the trials uncovered that the children were more interested in retribution for harms done to them than gratitude for good deeds.

 

Payback in kids is driven by self-protection, say researchers
Payback in kids is driven by self-protection, say researchers


The expert says young children expect others to be kind to them, so antagonistic behaviour may register more strongly and prompt a more urgent response. Parents need not be troubled by the findings as in evolution it is critical to stand up for yourself, Prof Blake said.

Brisbane child psychologist Dr Judith Locke believes that the children's reaction is positive.

"It's a positive thing because it means that children don't feel as if they should be treated badly and are willing to take actions to ensure others don't do this to them again," she said.



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