Prosocial Behaviors

Toddler Developmental Stage

Encouraging Social Behavior

Three-year-olds retain much of their toddler social thinking and behavior. As they become closer to 4, however, they move into the next stage, in which initiative plays a major part. Just as when they were toddlers, 4-year-olds need adults to provide a combination of encouragement and readiness to rescue. This stage of development also is explained by cognitive theorists such as Piaget (1932). From the post-toddler years to the beginning of the primary grades, children are in a heteronomous stage of development. This means they are socially and morally dependent on others to tell them what is right and what is wrong, and to determine appropriate punishments and rewards.

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