Assessment of the Prosocial Behaviors of Young Children with Regard to Social Development, Social Skills, Parental Acceptance-Rejection and Peer Relationships

By Gulay, Hulya | Journal of Instructional Psychology, September-December 2011 | Go to article overview

Assessment of the Prosocial Behaviors of Young Children with Regard to Social Development, Social Skills, Parental Acceptance-Rejection and Peer Relationships


Gulay, Hulya, Journal of Instructional Psychology


The aim of the study was prosocial behaviors of 5-6 years old children were investigated with regard to parental acceptance-rejection, peer relationships, general social development and social skills. The participants of the study included 277 5-6-year-old Turkish children and their parents. The Child Behavior Scale, Social Skills Form, Marmara Developmental Scale (Social Development Subscale), The Victimization Scale and Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire (PARQ) (Mother Form Father Form) were used in the study.

Based on the study results, family variables (parental acceptance-rejection), different dimensions of social development (social development levels and social skills levels) and variables about peer relationships (aggression, exclusion, fear-anxiety, hyperactivity, victimization-distractibility) were determined to be highly associated with prosocial behaviors. The study results related to family variables revealed the significant effect of parental acceptance-rejection on prosocial behaviors.

Key words: Prosocial behaviors, social development, social skills, parental acceptance-rejection, peer relationships

Peer relationships are an effective tool in children's attainment of social, emotional, linguistic, mental and physical skills. Researches demonstrate that majority of these skills are acquired during peer interactions. Especially the peer relations in preschool period affect children's development both in this period and subsequent years to come (Buhs &Ladd, 2001; Ladd, Kochenderfer, & Coleman, 1996, 1997).

Peer relationships are shaped by various behaviors. One of these behaviors is prosocial behaviors, which indicate voluntary behaviors exhibited for the benefit of others and shaped by emotional consistency and social competence. These behaviors may include sharing, guiding, being polite, protecting from danger and violence, empathizing, collaborating, providing help and support. These behaviors not only constitute social skills but are also important components of social competence (Cunningham, 1993; Feldman, 2005; Gulay, 2010; Hawley, 2002; Hay & Pawlby, 2003; Musser & Diamond, 1999; Persson, 2005). Lack of positive social behaviors is the determinant of negative behaviors in ensuing years. It has been determined that children who exhibit harmful behaviors towards their environment tend to adopt less social behaviors. It has also been observed that children who develop positive social behaviors are satisfied with their life, establish long lasting friendships, are accepted and loved by their peers, become academically successful, and that collaboration and cooperation are experienced at a high level in peer groups participated by such children (Hay & Pawlby, 2003; Kostelnik et al., 2005; Ladd & Profilet, 1996).

There are several factors that affect the development of positive social behaviors: family, temperament, gender, age, cultural expectations, experience, and various social skills such as language and sharing. In this study, prosocial behaviors of 5-6 years old children were investigated with regard to parental acceptance-rejection, peer relationships, general social development and social skills.

Parents' behaviors that set an example for their children, the guidance, explanations and advices they offer to their children, and their reinforcement of positive behaviors affect the development of social behaviors. In addition, it is reported that sensitive, warm, considerate, receptive, responsible, protective and rewarding behaviors towards the child have an improving effect on positive social behaviors. Highly affectionate, receptive and democratic parental attitudes are known to support positive social behaviors. In terms of the relationship with the mother, children who build a confident bond with their mothers learn positive social behaviors more easily. The general family atmosphere (divorce, loss of a parent, disapproval of social behaviors, etc. …

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