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C. Young Kids Learn to Feel Good About Following the Rules

Narrator: This is Science Today. Young children, especially between ages six and eight, recognize that they feel good when they follow rules and consider possible consequences. Psychologist Kristin Lagattuta of the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California , Davis , says their scenario-based study has implications for how children develop morals.

Lagattuta: It's not that somewhere between six and eight years of age, that they suddenly think, oh yeah you feel great following the rules all the time and you feel bad breaking the rules all the time. Not even adults feel think that way. For adults, the primary emotion prediction they had was mixed emotions, too. Because on some level, it feels good to get what you want regardless of the fact that you broke a rule.

Narrator: But unlike the four and five year olds studied, Lagattuta says the older children were on the cusp of understanding the relationship between prediction of emotions and desire fulfillment.

Lagattuta: And so, really talk about and find these moments where you can talk to your children about consequences and about the meaning for rules in the hopes that they can internalize this.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.