Growth and development do not only refer to physical changes and advances. It also includes the emotional, social, and psychological growth of the person. The first five years of the child’s life are very crucial. It is during these years that the child begins to think, socialize and communicate. During these early years of life, children mainly observe their environment and parents, and learn from it.
They also learn through play and interaction with their environment. Thus we need to provide them with a safe and secure environment. They also need enough opportunities to be independent and explore their environment. It will also help generate a sense of autonomy in the child.
Hence, when we provide enough opportunities to the child for positive growth, they develop a greater sense of social and emotional competence. This sets the foundation for long-term personal, social, and academic success. It also helps in promoting physical and mental well-being of the child.
Emotional competence is the ability to understand one’s emotions, others’ emotions. It is the capacity to express and understand one’s emotions and those of others. It also encourages a person to interact effectively and appropriately in a social and cultural context. Also, during these early years, toddlers may show a lot of temper tantrums with their moods shifting rapidly. Hence, it becomes essential for the parents to assist the child in developing emotional and social skills such as sharing, empathy, understanding and expressing what they are feeling in appropriate ways. So, how can you assist your child in developing the same? Here are some tips:
- Model What You Want Your Child to Learn: The majority of what your child learns comes from observing and mimicking those in the surrounding. Therefore, you should display appropriate behaviours such as helping others, showing empathy, expressing gratitude and verbalizing your own emotions so that your child may learn and model these behaviours. Saying words like “thank you” and “please” are good ways to demonstrate how you would like your child to behave
- Reinforce Good Behaviour: It is a good idea to praise your child or offer little tokens such as preparing the child’s favourite meal or allowing them some extra play time whenever they display desirable behaviours. Making your child feel good about him/her when they show certain behaviours will probably make them display similar behaviours more often. Creating a positive environment for the child where they can share their emotions without judgments will make them more thoughtful and generous.
- Instil Empathy in the Child: It is important to understand that empathy is different from sympathy. It means teaching your child to understand how other people feel in a given situation and why they behave in a certain way. It is a good idea to start by asking your child about their experiences, such as “How did you feel when a certain playmate pushed you?” This will help the child in understanding, naming their own emotions and in turn, help him/her understand how another child will feel in a similar situation. Storytelling is also a great way of instilling empathy in the child.
- Teaching Cooperation:Encourage your child to interact and play with others. Initially, the child may protest or dislike the idea since children have a hard time compromising and sharing but slowly they learn to adjust with the environment. And eventually also begin to develop social problem-solving skills.