Supporting and Facilitating Prosocial Development
Parents of toddlers who were most prosocial...
- Gave a clear, intense message that their child must not hurt others. A parent might say to the child, "Look what you did. You must never poke anyone's eyes" (said with feeling). The message was given to the child in a serious voice, but these parents did not slap or hurt their child in any way when the child hurt a peer.
- Helped their children see the connection between what they did and how it affected the other child. For instance, "You poked him. That hurt him" (said dramatically).
- Gave explanations for why the child should or should not behave in a particular way. Just saying, "No" or "Stop" without giving any additional information did not help children be kind. Instead it taught them to stop any activity when confronted with another's distress.
- Taught their children what to do instead of biting, hitting, etc. A parent might say, "You can say 'Stop,'" or "Pat gently- it feels good when you pat gently."
- Were kind and loving toward their own children. They gave hugs and kisses, soothing words, band-aids, and tissues for gently wiping runny noses. The children modeled after their parents and used the same prosocial behaviors with their peers.
- Helped others when they saw that they were in distress. If the parent couldn't help- for example, if another child cried in the grocery store and that child's mom was already confronting her- then the parent talked to her own child about the event: "Yes, she's crying. She's feeling sad because she hurt herself on the cart. Her mom is making her feel better."
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