Mark Greenberg: The Key to Human Development



Emotional regulation, according to developmental psychologist Mark Greenberg[1], is the key to human development. When a child is able to understand and find ways to express emotions, he or she responds in a new way.  According to a language-driven theory of self-regulation[2], the ability to use language to mediate emotions shifts the control of a situation to the individual and allows him or her to choose their own behaviour.

In this interview, Dr. Greenberg goes further to describe how regulating emotions has a direct relationship to being kind and compassionate.


Dr. Mark Greenberg is the Founding Director of The Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at Penn State University. His research interests span topics such as aggression and violence, promoting healthy social and emotional development through school-based prevention, the study of contemplative practices and neuroscience.

According to Vygotsky (psychologist and foundational theorist in human development), human behaviour and development is driven by the internalization of language-based social interactions. 

is the architect of the Second Signal System, proposed by
in reaction against the excessive rigidity of his earliertheories. It is the Second Signal System that provides the
means whereby man creates a mediator between himself andthe world of physical stimulation so that he can react in terms of
his own symboli
c conception of reality. 
  • Secure and Calm

    Secure and calm describes the ability to take part in daily activities and approach new situations without being overwhelmed with worries, sadness or anxiety. To be secure and calm also means being able to cope with stress and pressure, and to bounce back from difficulties.
  • Gets Along with Others

    Getting along with others is the ability to form positive and healthy relationships with peers and adults. Children with better abilities to regulate their emotions and behaviours have more friends and experience more positive playtime with their peers.
  • Alert and Engaged

    Being alert and engaged is the ability to manage and direct one's own feelings, thoughts and emotions. In general, the ability to be 'present' and to exercise self-control.
  • Compassionate and Kind

    Being compassionate and kind is closely related to empathy. While empathy refers more generally to the ability to take the perspective of and to feel the emotions of another person, compassion goes one step further.
  • Solves Problems Peacefully

    Managing conflict effectively is about creating an atmosphere where violence and aggression are not likely. To resolve conflict means using empathy, problem-solving skills, understanding other points of view and coming up with ways to make things right in a fair way.