chapter  7
10 Pages

Variations on a Theme

Young children's natural tendency in social interactions is to view the event in terms of its effect upon themselves first; thinking about the effect an interaction might have on other participants is secondary; giving consideration to the reasons for someone's behaviour, to their motives for behaving in this or that way, is for them an even less salient perspective. However, it is just these latter considerations, being aware of the effect one's behaviour has on others, and of the intentions of one's partner in an interaction, that form the basis of prosocial behaviour. The following task is therefore designed to focus children's attention upon intentions and consequences in social interactions. Children are invited to speculate about the precipitating factors which led to a given interaction, and the ensuing consequences of that interaction, both in terms of the behaviours of the participants, and their thoughts and feelings at the time. This task can be particularly effective if groups of children discuss social behaviours experienced by the individual members, such that they are trying to work out what one of their group did actually do, think and feel in a real situation. Where appropriate, it can also be useful to place bullies and victims in the same groups, such that they are encouraged to share different perspectives.