Houston Daycare Academy
Social Intelligence for Toddlers
Any parent of a toddler knows that it isn't easy to teach them social skills. That's because even though toddlers want to have happy, friendly, interactions with others, their own fears and desires get in the way. They can't help wondering: Will that child grab their toy? Can they get the truck before the other child? If they push the other kid off the trike and speed off, will they get away with it?
So the three initial steps in helping your toddler develop social intelligence are to help them:
Notice what they want and express it without attacking others.
Develop empathy for others.
Trust that they will get their needs met so they can delay gratification for short periods of time (for instance, to take turns).
These three skills will help your toddler learn to manage their emotions, which is the foundation of all interpersonal relationships.
So how do you get your toddler started learning social skills? Or at least stop him from clobbering the other kids in the playgroup?
1. Empathize, Empathize, Empathize.
Kids who receive a lot of empathy for their own feelings from the adults in their lives are the earliest to develop empathy for others, and research has shown that empathy for others is the cornerstone of successful interpersonal relationships.
2. Stay close during playgroups.
Many kids hit during social interactions because they get overwhelmed and they just don't know what else to do. If you're there, you can coach him on how to stick up for himself without hitting: "Yes, Ryan took your bucket....is that okay with you? No? You can say 'My Bucket!'" If your child knows you're there for backup, hitting won't become a habit.
3. Don't force toddlers to share.
It actually delays the development of sharing skills! Kids need to feel secure in their ownership before they can share. Instead, introduce the concept of taking turns.
“It’s Sophia’s turn to use the bucket. Then it will be your turn. I'll help you wait."
4. Let the child decide how long his turn lasts.
If kids think adults will snatch a toy away once the adult's random idea of "long enough" has passed, you're modeling grabbing, and the child usually becomes more possessive. If the child is free to use the toy for as long as he wants, he can fully enjoy it and then give it up with an open heart. When he's allowed to give the toy to the other child of his own volition, he enjoys that feeling of bestowing; that's the beginning of generosity.
5. Help your child wait.
If your child has a meltdown waiting for her turn, it's an indicator that she's got some big feelings to let out and is using this handy opportunity. Kids often get rigid about possession in an attempt to shore up their fragile equilibrium--just like adults! Empathize: "It's hard to wait... You wish you could use the bucket now... You can handle this... I will help you wait" and hold her while she cries. You'll be amazed to see that after "showing" you those pent-up emotions, she probably won't even care about the toy she was crying for, and will happily move on.
6. Intervene to stop compulsive grabbing.
Sometimes when kids grab, the other child doesn't even care. So don't rush to intervene. Instead, observe. Maybe they're playing a game. Most of the time, you don't need to interfere unless one of the children is unhappy. And if one child IS unhappy, you can coach them to stick up for themselves: "You can tell him, 'I was still using that!'"
source: Aha! Parenting
Nutcrackers Daycare Academy We are a family owned and operated academy that provides children with a strong foundation to begin their lives. Our teachers are highly trained and extremely attentive to support your child’s desire to explore and discover. Our passionate staff values the relationships we have with our families and work hard to involve them in all our activities and decisions. Our facility provides an openness inside and out for a child to feel free to explore, create, and learn in a safe, loving and developmentally appropriate environment. Contact at 713-842-7796.
Houston Daycare Academy
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