What Is "Prosocial Behavior" for Elementary Children?

By Kathryn Hatter
Prosocial behavior can include many different helping opportunities.
Prosocial behavior can include many different helping opportunities.

When someone makes a voluntary gesture, extended to help or benefit someone else, this fits the criteria of a prosocial behavior, states the Education.com website. As a child grows to the elementary grade level and becomes more aware of how social interactions work, the opportunities for prosocial behavior will begin to appear.

Offering Assistance

Even a young child can offer assistance to someone in need, advises the Stanislaus County Office of Education. Find an opportunity to help a friend in need or someone in your neighborhood. Your child could help rake leaves or shovel a front walk for someone who can’t perform these maintenance tasks. You and your child could bake cookies for a friend who needs cheering up. Your child can also find individual opportunities to help others – helping a teacher at school clean up a mess or helpiang a classmate find a lost object, for example.


Sharing toys and possessions with others can be an ideal way for children to exhibit prosocial behavior, states an article published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Whether the situation involves sharing a treat ora possession, the sharing child demonstrates empathy, kindness and the desire to help others when offering the use of a possession to someone else. One caveat: if a child is prompted to share, the gesture cannot fall under the heading of prosocial behavior because the gesture wasn't independently motivated, according to the NAEYC article.


When someone feels sad or hurt, putting an arm around the person, a hand on a shoulder or extending a hug demonstrates prosocial behavior. When a child feels empathy or sympathy toward someone else and then approaches the situation altruistically with the other person’s plight in mind, the child has made a prosocial gesture.

Inviting and Including

The child excluded or isolated sitting alone on a playground or in a busy playroom can be an opportunity for a prosocial gesture. If your child notices the lonely child and invites or includes her in play, this helpful and thoughtful gesture fits the description of prosocial behavior, states Kathy Preusse, with the Early Childhood News website. The child can use empathy to see a need and feel empowered to extend help and kindness for the good of someone else.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.