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Young children demonstrate prosocial behavior when they voluntarily act to help, share with, or comfort another person. Examples include a 1-year-old child who picks up a book for a grandmother who dropped it, an 18-month-old who hugs her brother when he bumps his head, or a 3-year-old twin who gives his sister some of his apple slices. These examples illustrate the three definitional characteristics of prosocial behavior: it is voluntary, intentional, and beneficial to another person. This prosocial behavior is striking evidence that even very young children recognize that the other person needs their help, understand what kind of help is needed, and take effortful action so that the other person benefits. In many but not all cases, young children’s prosocial behavior is also ...

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