Caring to Care
Submitted by Brooke Goldschmidt
From Chapter 10 – Prosocial Behavior
Prosocial behaviors are those that are positive and demonstrate the ability to think and act beyond the individual and their own needs. Students with prosocial behavior exhibit good morals, empathy and responsibility for others (Bergin & Bergin. 2012). Students exhibiting such behaviors are are not looking to gain personally, but are behaving in this in way in order to help someone or something outside of themselves. I think any adult, either teacher or parent, would agree that prosocial behavior is something that is extremely important and it should be a priority to instill this value in our children.
All humans are born with some innate ability to empathize or emotionally bond with other humans. As people grow older, their ability to demonstrate prosocial behaviors also increases. Teaching and demonstrating prosocial behavior to children should start and be promoted an early age because the behavior is more likely to continue on into primary grades (Hyson, 2011). The textbook explains that “The frequency of prosocial behavior does not appear to increase with age, but children’s competence at enacting prosocial behavior does improve with age.” Students become more aware of the behaviors as they get older and have the ability to choose the way they act.
Prosocial behaviors can predict many things, some of which include: happiness, popularity, more academic success and fewer discipline issues (Bergin & Bergin, 2012). Students who are able to positively demonstrate these behaviors are likely to be well-adjusted students and individuals. The natural rewards that come with positive behavior and the idea of putting others first, is typically guaranteed to yield positive results. While socially students benefit, they also benefit cognitively. According to a study conducted by Head Start (a program designed for children ages birth age five) a student’s ability to demonstrate prosocial competence can also predict other areas of strengths. The study showed a direct correlation between students with high assessments for prosocial competence and also being the most “cognitively ready” for school (Hyson, 2011).
There are also factors that can predict individual differences in prosocial behavior. These include: emotional competence, parental responsiveness, parental views, discipline reinforcement, and practice (Bergin & Bergin, 2012). Students are more likely to demonstrate these abilities if they have self-control and have emotional intelligence. The parental role and style of child rearing also influences these types of behaviors. A student with an uninvolved parent who is not responsive to their needs is not as likely to exhibit prosocial behaviors as a peer who has an authoritative parent who is warm and responsive. Children of warm and responsive parents typically are more likely to demonstrate these traits themselves (Fleischman & Kidron, 2008).
As adolescents move through school, they are also exposed to more opportunities to exhibit and demonstrate this behavior. Teachers should strive to create a classroom where students understand and actively demonstrate prosocial behaviors. Using victim-centered induction and asking students to put themselves in another person’s shoes is very common and effective way to promote build empathy and promote prosocial behavior. Teacher’s can also work on building students emotional competence by examining and reflecting on the emotions students feel at particular times. Exposing students to more situations that force them into moral reasoning and discussing these situations is another way to build prosocial behaviors. Teachers can also simply establish warm and caring relationships with students and model these types of behaviors as well (Bergin & Bergin, 2012). In the classroom, another easy way is to make a regular practice of using the “buddy system” in class. When checking homework, reviewing for a test, or having learning conversations, ask students to pair up and work with other students (Fleischman & Kidron, 2008).
Schools should also develop and implement strong character education programs into curriculum to promote prosocial behaviors as the norm of the school climate. These programs should be student-centered and avoid lectures by teachers and adults. The more student-centered the approach, the more effective these programs will be (McDaniel, 2009). Community service clubs, peer tutoring sessions, and community service opportunities are all ways that schools can help promote this positive behavior in all students and help students learn to care to care.
Bergin, C.C. & Bergin, D.A. (2012). Child and Adolescent Development in Your Classroom. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
Hyson, M. (2011). Caring about Caring: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Retrieved October 19, 2013 fromhttp://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/201107/CaringAboutCaring_Hyson_http://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/201107/CaringAboutCaring_Hyson_OnlineJuly2011.pdfOnlineJuly2011.pdf.
Fleischman, Steve & Kidron, Yael (2008). Educational Leadership:Teaching the Tweens: Promoting Prosocial Behavior. ASCD. Vol 63(7). Retrieved October 18, 2013, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/apr06/vol63/num07/Promoting_Adolescents’_Prosocial_Behavior.aspx.
McDaniel, AK. “Character Education: Developing Effective Programs.” 2009. <http://www.joe.org/joe/1998april/a3.php>
Do you believe students exhibit more prosocial behaviors in certain grades or periods of schooling? What have you noticed in your experiences?
Discuss a student that you have experience with who did not demonstrate prosocial behaviors. What steps did you take to help correct this behavior?
Discuss a student that you have experience with who was overly prosocial. What steps did you take to help correct this behavior?
What activities and opportunities do you plan in the classroom for students to exhibit prosocial behavior?
What types of clubs or activities does your school offer that help students exhibit prosocial behaviors?