There are a number of skills young children are learning that lead to prosocial behaviors. As these skills strengthen, so too will the consistency with which children act in prosocial ways. Just like most skills children learn, the skills below take time and practice to master. While the emergence of these skills may occur in early childhood, children may not master these skills until much later in life.
- Self-regulation – This includes the ability to manage and express emotions safely (emotional regulation and manage impulses and responses to stimuli (behavioral self-regulation). In other words, emotional self-regulation is the ability to calm down after an upsetting or stressful situation occurs. Behavioral self-regulation is the ability to think before acting, make plans, and take steps to complete those plans. This combination of skills helps children establish a state of mind in which they can consider the needs of others in addition to their own.
- Theory of mind – Theory of mind is the comprehension that other individuals have thoughts, feelings, motivations, and needs that are different from your own. It is the awareness of the thinking mind that children begin to develop between the ages of 3 and 5. It is the development of theory of mind that allows a young child to see that a peer is sad because they want a turn with the tricycle. Theory of mind also allows a child to understand that even if a peer doesn’t want to give up the tricycle, they will do so because that child can feel one way and act another.
- Empathy – Also developing in the early years, is the skill of empathy, or being able to place yourself in the shoes of another. Having empathy to recognize the emotions you see others expressing and understand how that person is feeling because you recognize how you have experienced that feeling. Empathy also includes acting or communicating that understanding in a way designed to support or comfort the other person. We can’t always fix the situation or make the feelings go away, but we can acknowledge those feeling and let the person know they are not alone.
For the main article Promoting Prosocial Behaviors, CLICK HERE
For the article What are Prosocial Behaviors?, CLICK HERE
For the article Strategies, CLICK HERE
For the article Director’s Corner, CLICK HERE