How to nurture social emotional development of your child?
Created by Sugandha Tiwari Updated on Jun 21, 2020
As your child is growing he or she is also developing emotionally and socially. He or she is interacting with others – either adults, or other children of his or her age group. All this is a part of socio-emotional development of your child. Before we go further, let’s understand what is social emotional development and why is it important for your child to develop social-emotional skills.
What Is Social Emotional Development?
Social-emotional development includes the child’s experience, expression, and management of emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others. Infants experience, express, and perceive emotions before they fully understand them. In learning to recognize, label, manage, and communicate their emotions and to perceive and attempt to understand the emotions of others, children build skills that connect them with family, peers, teachers and the community. These growing capacities help young children to become competent in negotiating increasingly complex social interactions, to participate effectively in relationships and group activities.
What Is The Importance Of Social Emotional Skills?
The social-emotional development of your child will later affect his/her growth in life. It is closely linked to the development of other skills. During the preschool years, your child is learning important social skills through his/her interaction with friends that will affect his/her social-emotional competence. He/she is observing his/her peers, playing and sharing with them, talking and taking turns and ultimately cooperating with them in games and pretend play. Children who have at least one friend are more socially competent. When children play with friends, they display more positive attitudes, engage in more sophisticated play, and use more effective problem-solving strategies.
What Are The Elements Of Social Emotional Development?
Here are some of the elements of social emotional development.
- Nonverbal interaction with adults through gestures, social smile, eye contact etc
- Giggling and babbling
- Verbal interaction with peers and adults
- Relationship with peer and adults
- Interaction and exchange of language with peer and adults
- Identity of self in relation to others
- Recognition of ability
- Expression of emotion
- Empathy and regard for others emotions
- Emotion and impulse control with rules and regulations
- Social understanding
How Can I Create Everyday Opportunities?
There are numerous ways by which you can create everyday opportunities and here I am listing a few.
- Play dates: Aim to frequently organize play dates. Invite your friends, relatives or colleagues’ children at home. Also, send your child whenever someone asks you to
- Play zone in your home: Create a place in your home that is specifically dedicated to play. You may label it with a small coloured poster saying "Play Zone". Whenever your child’s friends or sibling are over, they must be directed to play here. Include equipment like dump trucks, wagons to carry and games to play in groups in the play zone
- Peer interaction: When you are outdoors for play, encourage your child to have peer interaction as much as possible. Often it is observed when you interact with others; your child will imitate you and will try doing the same. So, it is an opportunity for you to consider working on your social skills
- Positive comments: Make positive comments when your child is playing with others, sharing toys, taking turns and participating in group activities. Again, this is an opportunity for you to consider looking at if present any of your own prejudices, egos, fears or anxieties
- Praise is important: Praise your child for using appropriate social skills throughout the day
Encourage interaction with your neighbours: In our culture often neighbors are very interactive and when you have a toddler they will become all the more interactive. If they want to play with your child, let that happen and use these as opportunities for your toddler to go out and interact with different people.
- Be responsive to your child’s attempts to use social skills both at home and outside
- Once a day whenever you want, talk to your child about his/her emotions, feelings, experiences and fears
- During pretend play activities like kitchen kitchen and playing with stuff toys and animals, your child is enacting out lot of emotions. You can talk to your child about different emotions with smiley cards
What Are The Specific Activities That Help In Nurturing Social Emotional Development?
Here are some of the specific activities that will help in nurturing the skills.
- Pick stories that talk about friendship: While reading activities or storytelling, pick up stories that talk about friendships, cooperation, taking turns, sharing, and helping each other. Social stories are an excellent way to teach a variety of skills at a young age.
- Games are a best bet: Play games where you read out a situation from a story to your child and ask him/her to tell you the appropriate emotion for it. Use emotion picture cards for this. If your child is able to have a conversation about it, do that as well.
- Picture cards help: If your child is not very verbal and does not like to speak much, you can also stick the emotion picture cards in his/her room. Teach your child that every time he/she is feeling a certain way and does not want to talk to anybody about it for the time being, he/she can point to the picture card matching with his/her emotion.
- Good role model: Your toddler is learning most of the things by observing and imitating you, other adults around and his/her teachers in school. So, please model it for him/her. Model how you would appropriately express and deal with your emotions.
- Inculcate the habit of reflection: Whenever you notice your child doing something for eg. Either expressing a negative behaviour or a positive one, later during the day ask him/her about it. For eg. You notice your child helping someone on the street or hitting someone, ask him/her "How did that make you feel". Remember not to make a big deal out of a negative behaviour. The intention is not to humiliate your child or make him/her feel bad; rather it is to teach a crucial skill of empathy through self-reflection.
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