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How to Influence Prosocial Behavior in Children

by Susan Revermann

Becoming a kind, concerned and compassionate part of society doesn’t just happen naturally for everyone. Sometimes, you have to learn some aspects of this behavior along the way. You can help create a prosocial learning environment for your child by encouraging certain activities and modeling appropriate prosocial behavior. As the parent, you are one to the top influencing factors in your child’s life, so use that to your advantage -- and show her how to behave.

Encourage your child to participate in role-play and dramatic play activities, such as dress-up, puppets, dolls or action figures, either with you or other children. As your child participates in this kind of pretend play with others she has the opportunity to act out a variety of emotions and feelings through various character roles. These positive social interactions also help your child develop an understanding of the feelings of others.

Play games with your child that require sharing. This type of activity allows your child to learn positive interaction skills, such as dividing items, taking turns, patience, and give and take. Board games and a bin of community toys fall into this category.

Enroll you and your child in a volunteer service. You can take her to a retirement home to visit with the elderly, help out at an animal shelter, or pick up trash around the neighborhood. These acts of kindness and concern for others and the environment help strengthen her understanding of her impact on the world around her.

Plan activities that require your child to cooperate and work either with you or another child to reach a goal. For instance, you can put a puzzle together with your child or use blocks to construct a play city. This type of activity also provides the opportunity for your child to learn to problem-solve or use conflict resolution if any problems arise during play.

Practice praising others -- and let your child see you exhibit this behavior. Similarly, avoid putting others down, even if you do not approve of something someone does or says. Also, if you do say something hurtful to another, apologize -- and let your child witness your apology when appropriate.

Items you will need
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Puppets
  • Dolls
  • Action figures
  • Games
  • Puzzles
  • Blocks

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images