Doctor of Education
Oluwatoyin Akinde Fakuajo, Ed.D
Anna Farrell. Ph.D
Kelly Sadlovsky, Ph.D.
Scholars and Early Childhood Education (ECE) professionals acknowledge the critical nature of prosocial behavior (PSB) skills in the lives of preschool-aged children. Research specifies that children lacking PSBs are socially and academically disadvantaged. Studies have shown that 30% of preschoolers exhibit negative emotional/social behavior, and 80% of preschool educators report negative social behaviors (NSBs) adversely affecting their jobs. It is well-researched that a child's earliest experiences shape social and emotional behaviors, explicitly parenting and the home environment; however, less research exists about parents' knowledge and perception of their role relating to PSB development in their child's life. This qualitative case study consisted of semi-structured interviews with 13 parent participants. This study offers insight into parents' perceptions of PSB and examines the shared role between parents and ECE. Participants' conversations revealed that parents rely on and expect ECE educators and the ECE environment to enrich and provide developmentally appropriate PSB development support for their children. Participant conversations revealed several developmentally unrealistic expectations for a preschool-aged child, specifically self-regulation, problem-solving, and empathy skills. Study findings also highlight shared frustrations with reoccurring or unexpected NSBs and fear of future NSBs. Based on the narratives, participants noted a contextual difference regarding the home and ECE environment and considered ECE classrooms the ideal setting for PSB skill building. Findings denote that parents want more PSB support and information. The data collected in this study will permit ECE leaders and professionals to enhance and reshape PSB programming to support parents and preschool-aged children with PSB development.