Developing Empathy and Moral Sentiments in Preschool Children Through Drama

Article Polish OPEN
Szafrańska, Karina (2016)
  • Publisher: Edukacja Elementarna w Teorii i Praktyce
  • Journal: Elementary Education in Theory and Practice (issn: 2353-7787, eissn: 1896-2327)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.14632/eetp.2016.11.41.255
  • Subject: Education | empathy; developing moral sentiments; preschool children; role play; drama | pedagogika | empatia; rozwój uczuć moralnych; dziecko w wieku przedszkolnym; zabawa w role; drama

Moral and prosocial behavior determines our relations with other people. Martin L. Hoffman’s concept of the link between empathy and the universal stages of moral development focuses on the development of empathy, guilt and moral internalisation. Hoffman claims that cognitive development is closely linked to the development of empathy and to the development of moral sentiments in particular. Semantic processing requires more skills than mimicry, association or conditioning. There are five stages in the parallel cognitive and empathy development in children: a newborn’s reactive cry, egocentric empathic distress, quasi-egocentric empathic distress, veridical emphatic distress and empathy for another’s experience beyond the immediate situation. Role-taking provides a substitute emotional experience by putting oneself in the other’s place. The role-taking ability is the social-cognitive process which indicates that a given person is able to enter into another’s thoughts, feelings and intentions. The activity is based on the observation of real life (culture) and the scenarios help understand sociocultural conventions. Drama in education offers an opportunity for children to understand and recognize the emotions and mental states of other people. The most valuable feature of drama is that it helps develop theory of mind and children can learn to narrate and dialogue. As a result, a game takes on a new significance.
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