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How To Foster A Child’s Prosocial Behavior

Prosocial behavior is synonymous with philanthropy and altruism. It is a social behavior that provides for people and society through certain acts, such as caring, sharing, comforting, among others. 

Also, it depicts the opposite of antisocial behavior. In essence, while some individuals engage in antisocial behavior to hurt or harm someone, others engage in prosocial behavior to help their immediate society.

Table of Contents

What Is Prosocial Behavior?

What is prosocial behavior?

Prosocial behavior can be traced back to the earliest times when men lived communally and valued kinship. Psychologists use kinship and communalism as effective instruments that have helped in the passing down of these traits from one generation to another. 

These actions are for several reasons such as empathy, concern for others’ welfares. Also, it can be an act of reciprocity as well as ego due to one’s status or affluence. Importantly, evidence proves that pro-sociality is essential to all social groups such as schools, families, workplaces, charity organizations and so on. 

During teamwork, it helps to increase psychological safety and performance. In a bid to promote prosocial behavior, it is also important that undesirable social behavior reduces for the common good of the society.

Types of Prosocial Behavior 

The types of prosocial behavior are in two distinct categories.

The first category includes;

A Proactive Prosocial Behavior

This is a behavior that is done for personal gain, especially, an action that serve self-aiding intentions. 

A Reactive Prosocial Behavior

This is a behavior that is carried out as a response to satisfy individual requirements.

An Altruistic Prosocial Behavior

This is an action that is performed to help others without expecting any compensation. 

Researches prove that these various types of prosocial social behaviors are prone to be motivated or triggered by several forces. For instance, proactive actions are common among people with high status or popularity, while altruistic behaviors are common among friends who aim to share their goals.

The second category includes;


Most parents teach their kids to share with their fellow siblings and friends. From a tender age, they learn to share things like their toys, snacks, food, etc. Therefore, these pieces of training grow with them and they end up being useful to society. 

Examples of such acts are;

  • · Allowing other children to play with their toys 
  • · Teaching children to share their academic knowledge with peers


This is the act of giving varieties of things to the less privileged, the helpless or the society at large. 


This is quite synonymous with donating. However, what makes it different is that those who volunteer, give their time, skills and abilities to help others instead of giving materials. 


The term cooperation depicts togetherness. It is an act of working together with others in a bid to achieve a common goal. Generally, when people work together they tend to achieve much more than when they work alone. Here, it takes different strengths, skills or interests to perform tasks. 

Such tasks include;

  • · Cleaning an environment together 
  • · Playing keyboard while someone else plays the drum

Obeying Societal Rules

When you obey rules, you do not only help yourself but you help your society also. This is a prosocial behavior that enhances orderliness and mutual harmony in society. 

Some of these rules can be;

  • traffic rules
  • Paying your tax
  • Buying instead of shoplifting goods

Adhering to Social Conventions.

Apart from complying with written rules, there are also social ethics that prosocial behavior demands from you as an individual. Some of these behaviors are:

  • Helping someone to cross the road
  • Treating people with respect

Benefits of Prosocial Behavior 

It is important to note that some humans are highly prosocial. Such people give their time and resources to their families and friends even when it is discomforting. Significantly, a child who learns to give will absorb the act and gradually gain a sense of fulfilment and good mental health.

The following points explain some of the benefits of prosocial behavior;

Prosocial Behavior Increases Positivity 

Research illustrates that those who engage in more prosocial activities experience a higher level of positive mood. Specifically, this shows that involving in prosocial activities reduces emotional and mental stress and promotes the wellbeing of such persons.

A study illustrates that practicing an act of kindness consistently for 10 days can change how we feel and think about life. Hence, training a child to exercise prosocial behavior will boost his mindset. 

It Improves Emotional Health and Self-Esteem 

Children who carry out prosocial activities have a very low tendency to suffer from emotional instability and low self-esteem. For example, caregivers and parents should encourage children to engage in activities that allows them to show love to thier peers. Such include playing and sharing. 

It reduces stress

Research illustrates that prosocial behavior largely reduces stress and its emotional negative effects. Helping others has been a great way to reduce stress because of the feeling of satisfaction that it gives. However, most of the benefit extends to the recipient. 

Research has been made on how prosocial behavior can be encouraged among members of society, which has birthed the idea of volunteering. People are encouraged to volunteer to join the community, such as campaigns against certain activities like drug abuse, sexual assault, kidnapping, among others.

This also extends to volunteering to help world organizations such Red Cross, World Health Organization to sensitize people about certain activities and lifestyles such as global warming, diseases, etc., to promote communal living.

Building Prosocial Behavior in Children

Prosocial Behavior in Children

Caregivers and parents can promote prosocial behavior by implementing policies and extracurricular activities that help children to harmonize, volunteer, learn and grow.

Significantly, children grow with prosocial behaviors from infancy and childhood, which enhances their social and emotional growth. However, parents play a quintessential role in fostering and maintaining a child’s prosocial behavior (being the first point of contact of every child). 

Therefore, the following explains several ways that parents can foster children’s prosocial behavior;

Teaching Them How to Behave Appropriately

Parents need to let children know they are responsible for their actions. They need to make them understand that there are positive or negative consequences to all of their actions. This will help children to be careful about the decisions they make, hence, making them empathically and socially conscious.

Reading Books on Friendship and Relationships

Children ought to understand the importance of friendship to make good friends. Such knowledge can build their interpersonal skills. Also, pictorial books can be used to teach younger children who cannot read. 

Say It, Live It

Children learn better by imitation. As a parent, you should make it a habit to do whatever you teach your children. You should also correct a child wisely whenever he is wrong. 

Notice And Label a Child’s Prosocial Behavior 

When a child does well, parents should use words like “you were helpful”, “that was kind” and so on. This makes the child understand better and creates a conscious effort in the child to do more. 

On the contrary, if a child acts in an unruly manner, it is also important for parents to let them know. Parents should use words like “that was bad” so that it registers in the mind of the child and help him grow. With time and consistency, the child will become Prosocial. 


Parents are expected to live a life worthy of emulations so that their growing children can see them as a model. Precisely, it helps children to cultivate and internalize every action. 

Emphatic Parental Care

Children give whatever they receive. Research has shown that the behavior of parents can sometimes be seen in the actions of a child. So a child who does not receive care, might not see the need to care for others. Therefore, every parent must create a strong bond between themselves and their children.

Give Tasks and Chores

Parents should teach their children to be proactive and helpful in the house. Charity, they say, begins at home. Moreover, completing tasks and chores helps the child to understand that he is a part of a society that begins from the family.

Avoid Content That Promotes Violence 

What is seen affects the mind than what is heard. Hence, parents should be keen on making sure their children watch helpful contents that promote friendship, care and harmony.

Teach Them to Appreciate Nature

Every child naturally connects with their environment. As a result, parents must teach them to take care of such environments by cleaning the environment, taking care of their pets, planting flowers, among others

Teach them gratitude 

Being grateful is an essential element of Prosocial behavior. For that reason, children should be thought to say “thank you” whenever they receive gifts, help, or after eating. 


Prosocial behavior is a deliberate act of sharing and giving to individuals or volunteering oneself to organizations/events that can build societies and lives. Essentially, parents must frequently demonstrate such behavior to their children to help develop their social and emotional wellbeing.