Early Childhood Education is a fascinating field where early childhood educators must embrace the uniqueness, needs, talents, and abilities of each child. As an educator, my goal is to create a safe, positive, age-appropriate environment and curriculum for all children to learn, explore, continuously discover something new, and most importantly educating and guiding parents in modeling for their child to become successful individuals. In our busy society, a parent’s primary focus is on academics; preparing their children to excel in school. When this becomes the primary focus, the social-emotional development is placed last on their list or is forgotten altogether. As an educator, I strongly believe that in order for a child to be successful we have to focus on the whole child, focusing on all areas of development. Social-emotional development occurs in the first five years since the child is learning and understanding how the world they live in functions.
Social-emotional development embodies emotion regulation, ability to express emotions, effectively build relationships with adults and peers, problem-solve, turning taking, sharing, being respectful, displaying empathy, responsibility, kindness, and standing up for oneself. These are skills that a child must learn in order to be successful in life. I believe this is the reason our young generation is having such a difficult time at school with peers, especially with bullying. For parents, it is vital to create a safe and positive environment for your child at home, to guide them, model appropriately, and to always focus on the positive actions of your child. Celebrate all the little accomplishments your child conquers to build their confidences and self-esteem. Here are ways that you can work with your child to develop his or her social-emotional skills.
1. Parents, remember you are the number teacher of your child; your child looks up to you for guidance. Therefore it is important for you to model appropriately in social events or situations.
2. Most importantly set limits to what your child can see on television or other media. Sometimes I hear my preschoolers talking about watching scary movies and about violent movies. Transitioning or limiting your child’s attention from gadgets, technology, and television is just as important in developing their social-emotional skills. Zoe Withers from ThinkBaby.org provides tips on how to transition your child’s attention from gadgets to activities that will get them moving, playing out in nature, problem solving through puzzles, or simply reading books. We need to be more intentional about focusing our child’s attention and energy in creating personal bonds with one another, enjoying the moment, living life, and creating memories.
3. Set socialization events with relatives or friends to give your child the opportunity to build relationships. Socialization is an important element in shaping a child’s personality, values, beliefs and how they present themselves to the world. Before attending a social event explained to your child the rules and expectations you have for them. Throughout the event, keep reminding your child about the expectations and rules and explain why he or she needs to follow them. Above all, let them be kids, have fun, and explore the world around them.
4. I would recommend parents to read the following books that focus on the social-emotional development:
The Whole-Brain Child by 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
How to Talk So Kids Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children Meeting the Critical Needs of Children and Parents Too! By Gerald Newmark, Ph.D.
5. There is endless information about social-emotional strategies at http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/
index.html and www.zerotothree.org.