The Prosocial Domain: supporting self-regulation across the five domains
Shanker Self-Reg® helps us consider self-regulation and stress across five interrelated domains: biological, emotion, cognitive, social and prosocial. In this blog we are going to explore the Prosocial Domain.
Stress in the Prosocial Domain is often tied to a child’s difficulty coping with other people’s stress. Signs of Prosocial Stress, can include difficulties sharing, telling the truth, understanding right and wrong, and more.
Let’s explore The Prosocial Domain further:
- The crux of Self-Reg is that we are born with a brain that expects social engagement.
- Antisocial behaviour in a child is not the norm.
- Clearly there are biological mechanisms that, in the wrong circumstances, lead to antisocial behaviour.
- Equally clearly, there are biological mechanisms that, in the right circumstances, lead to prosocial behaviour.
- Instead of asking how you compel a child to behave prosocially, through a lens of self-regulation we ask: what sets a child on an antisocial path?
- The answer lies in stress overload. Fight-or-flight shuts down digestion, cellular repair, immune system, and PFC systems that subserve mind-reading and communication.
- Stress overload shuts down the very systems that enable us to experience “cognitive empathy”: not just being affected by, but aware of what someone else feels.
- When social engagement shuts down, ancient systems run the show. Systems that predate the Social Brain relying on aggression or escape to deal with threat.
- Some children are born susceptible to limbic arousal, or had experiences that kindled the limbic system. If the limbic system is hyperaroused, impulses intensify while social and self-awareness decline, The child can’t share, sympathize, or communicate. Someone else’s arousal is so stressful that it triggers fight-or-flight or freeze.
- What is critical in such situations is how we respond to the child’s anxiety, which can manifest in acts of aggression.
- Chastising a child for his lack of empathy, shouting when a child needs to be soothed, escalating when the child needs to down-regulate, can make things worse. Instead we have to do Self-Reg, on ourselves as well as with the child.
- Early learning centres and schools provide us with the perfect opportunity, not just to explain, but also to model this behaviour for parents.
Examples of Stressors in the Prosocial Domain:
Stressors in the Prosocial Domain, an illustration by Kristin Wiens
Continue the Self-Reg Learning:
Previous Blog in Series: The Self-Reg Framework: The Social Domain