- Category Advice Column, Baby, Child, Health, Lifestyle, Parenting, Pregnancy & Baby, Toddler, Toy Box
Play is a child’s language, his work, his relaxation and the way he builds relationships. Forming a healthy relationship with parents help children to feel secure. This sets the stage for a child’s social and emotional development for the rest of his life.
Social development is how we interact with others, the ability to form secure relationships. Emotional development is the ability to regulate and express our emotions. Strong social-emotional development is the basis for all later social, emotional and academic success.
According to the National Academy of Sciences there are three qualities children need to have to be ready for school. Intellectual skills, motivation to learn and strong social and emotional capacity.
How do we as parents create the opportunities needed to develop these skills? It is simple, children need to play. Children use play to release emotions, work through feelings and understand their world better by play-acting in situations they can control. The give and take patterns of play allow children the opportunity to practice the skills necessary for healthy emotional development.
Here are some practical ways to help:
- Suggest ways for children to interact and play together. If you see a child struggling to build a tower, suggest that one helps by holding it while other one builds.
- Help children learn to take turns, or share what they have. “Ethan wants to play too but he has no play-dough. Let’s give him some of ours so we can all play together.”
- Help your child build empathy and sympathy for others. If someone got hurt let him give a hug or a special toy to help him feel better. Teach him to help someone up if they fell.
- Build your child’s vocabulary regarding feelings. Being able to express his feelings adequately will result in less frustration and aggression. For example, disappointment, nervous, frustrated, curious, amazed and astonished.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Help him to talk about how he is feeling. Comfort and hold him and speak to him softly and calmly.
- Love your child and show affection towards him. Give him lots of hugs and cuddles. Tell him that you are proud of him.
- Role play and pretend play are lovely ways to teach children about feelings. Tell a story about how the bear got hurt, or how someone said something ugly to him. Explain how he is feeling and give your child a chance to explain what feelings the bear could be having because of what has happened. Let him help the bear with suggestions of how he can make him feel better.