Perspective taking skills are suspended in a cognitive capability called, “Theory of Mind.” A formal definition of Theory of Mind is, “an understanding of other people’s mental states” (their thoughts, emotions, desires, motivations, intentions). People today use this info to generate sense of other people’s behaviour, predict what individuals may do or say next, and to consider one’s own societal behaviour and adjust it accordingly. Theory of Mind shortages may lead to issues with: being sensitive to other people’s feelings, taking into account background knowledge, reading the listener’s attention level in conversation, detecting a speaker’s hidden significance, anticipating what others think of one’s own societal behaviours, and understanding “unwritten” social rules.
The bases of Theory of Mind skills develop slowly from infancy until 6-7 years of age. The most basic level is referred to as understanding “First-order False beliefs.” This means a child can comprehend 1 person’s opinion about some thing. “Second-order False beliefs” refer to knowing one individual’s belief about another individual’s belief.Finally, “Higher order False beliefs” refer to understanding what people believe that others believe about their thoughts.
Parallel to the development of basic perspective taking abilities throughout youth, a child is experiencing the development of empathetic thinking as well. Empathetic believing can also be a demonstration of perspective taking ability. There are 5 stages of development perspective taking skills :
- Stage I : Global Empathy– During 1st year of life, babies cannot differentiate between their own discomfort or that of another kid, so they could shout when they hear a different kid crying.
- Stage II : Egocentric Empathy — Around age 1, kids understand another person’s discomfort is not their own — might show great concern for the person who is crying.
- Stage III : Emotional Empathy — 2-3 years of age can identify the source of discomfort for another person-may offer to help or ask a question
- Stage IV : Cognitive Empathy — By approximately age 6, a neurotypical child can view things from another’s perspective, so there is a noticeable rise in their efforts to offer comfort, support and to try to help and repair the problem.
- Abstract Empathy — By ages 10-12, a youngster can expand sympathy beyond people they know to more global scenarios like world hunger, war victims, homelessness, etc..
Perspective taking skills relate to pragmatic development in that they help children to have the ability to demonstrate empathy and sensitivity in friendships, interpret and react to non-verbal cues, forecast other people’s reactions to your own social behaviors, and increase self-awareness of interaction abilities. Fostering perspective taking skills is a vital part of social language programming and intervention.