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Morning Sun
  • Teaching young children social, emotional skills

  • Social and emotional development is very important for the growth of healthy young children. These skills may even be more important than the development of intellectual skills. When talking about children’s readiness for kindergarten, it was once said, “If a child is mad and sad, they can not add”!

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  • Social and emotional development is very important for the growth of healthy young children. These skills may even be more important than the development of intellectual skills. When talking about children’s readiness for kindergarten, it was once said, “If a child is mad and sad, they can not add”!
    The child’s ability  to control his or her emotions and the ability to socialize and interact appropriately with others is a key developmental stage needed before a child is ready to set in a classroom ready to focus and attend to the task of learning.
    There are many things parents can do to help teach social-emotional skills.
    • Catch your child doing things that are positive! Be sure to let them know their behavior pleases you. Children need to hear when they are doing things well.
    • Take time to play with your child each day. Do activities you both enjoy such as reading books together, playing games, singing, or talking and walking together. Play is child’s work — that is how they learn.
    • Find ways for your child to play with others his or her age.
    • Turn off the television during meals and use mealtime as a time to talk with each other. Give everyone a chance to talk and tell you about their day. Be sure to really listen when your child talks to you.
    • Read to your child everyday. This can be an enjoyable bedtime routine, giving the child a calming activity right before bed and quality time for you and the child to spend together. Regular bedtimes help your child get enough asleep.
    • Limit the time your child spends in front of a screen, both television and computers. When your child does watch television, watch shows along with them. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend any screen time for children under two years of age.
    • Remember you are your child’s first and most important teacher! Your child will copy what he sees you doing or saying. Be aware of how you act and what you say when your child is nearby.
    • Have guidelines and rules for appropriate behavior and for safety. Be fair and consistent. Does your child know that if it is a rule today, it will be a rule for tomorrow as well? Children feel secure when they feel the adults in their lives are in control. When your child makes a mistake, help them learn how to do it correctly the next time.
    • Children need to learn how to ask for help when it is needed. You can role play certain situations with your child to teach him what to do. Some examples are what to do if he loses you when in a store or what to do if the phone rings and you cannot answer it.
    Page 2 of 2 - • Teach your child how to deal with angry feelings. Let her know that everyone gets angry sometimes. Give her words and show her ways to deal with angry feelings that will not hurt anyone or anything.
    • When your child will not cooperate, give choices of what to do, with all options being okay with you. For example: “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red one?” or “Do you want to walk to the car or shall I carry you?” Children will tend to be more cooperative when they are given some level of choice in the matter. They also learn decision-making skills when given choices.
    Young children will do better in life and in school if they feel good about themselves and their world around them. Once social and emotional issues have been addressed, children can then focus their attention on other aspects of learning.

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