Social-emotional development plays a crucial role in a child’s overall wellbeing and success in life. It encompasses the ability for a child to comprehend and manage emotions, forge positive relationships, and navigate social situations in an effective way.
As parents, caregivers and educators, it is our responsibility to support and nurture this aspect of a child’s development, and the earlier this begins, the better. In this article, we will break down a handful of strategies and techniques that you can use to promote a child’s social-emotional growth.
One of the key building blocks of social-emotional development is emotional literacy, which can be defined as helping children identify and make sense of their own emotions while also learning to recognise them in others.
What we can do is to encourage conversations about feelings and provide a safe environment for them to express themselves. You can use descriptive language and make room for them to practise identifying emotions through books, movies, or real-life situations.
For instance, this may be saying things like, “How do you feel right now?” and “It’s okay to feel sad/happy/angry/worried”. To validate your child’s feelings, you can also vocalise it as such, “I understand how you feel”.
Active listening and empathy
Children learn by example, and teaching them to be active listeners and have empathy for others is the foundation of healthy social interactions. Therefore, you should always model active listening and give the children your full attention when they are speaking.
You can also encourage them to ask questions, and express interest in the feelings and experiences of others. That way, the child will gradually be able to see and understand situations from different perspectives, particularly when conflict arises.
For example, as a parent, you can say things like these, “How do you think your friend feels?” and “Tell me about what happened at school”. During conflict, you may mention, “How can we make things right?” and “It’s okay to disagree, but let’s find a solution”.
Play and socialisation
Playing, especially with other children, is a powerful tool that aids the social-emotional development of children. This enables children to learn how to cooperate, negotiate, and solve problems in an engaging manner that is enjoyable to them.
Both structured activities, such as board games and sports, and unstructured play time where children can freely interact with their peers is very helpful in this regard. Group activities can also help the child learn how to handle social dynamics and build friendships.
Helping children to develop healthy coping strategies will allow them to manage their emotions more effectively. It is important for them to be able to calm themselves down in certain situations, cheer themselves up, and even face their fears.
While you may assume that breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, and activities like drawing are only helpful to adults, they can be useful for children too when approached more simplistically. That way, they will know what to do when overwhelmed or upset.
Some of these strategies include taking slow, deep breaths when upset, using a calming toy that grounds them, positive self-talk, and paying attention to what they can hear, touch, and smell. You can also help the children identify their triggers to better manage potential outbursts moving forward.
Independence and responsibility
Trusting your child with age-appropriate responsibilities helps them cultivate a sense of autonomy and self-worth while helping them feel capable enough to take care of things without having to rely on anyone else.
Such responsibilities can include picking out their clothes, cleaning up after themselves after a meal, and other small chores around the house. Once they feel trusted, this helps them build up their confidence, which also impacts their social-emotional growth.
Tots & Teddies
Tots & Teddies is a multi-award winning immersive-bilingual, full-day infant care and preschool centre located in Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD). We cater to discerning parents who want the best quality care for their infants from 2 months through to children under 7 years old.
Our learning environments are created carefully around your child so they feel safe, secure, fun and are able to respond freely. The environments help to spark curiosity and creativity in your child, invite exploration, manipulation, and a sense of discovery.
The classrooms have been designed to support your child’s character development through our thematic inquiry-based curriculum. Additionally, we feature a semi-open classroom concept where children from different age groups can socialise and learn from one another.
To ensure the holistic development of your child, bi-weekly trips to the Children’s Park at Gardens By The Bay are provided at no additional charge to parents. Alternatively, they also get to explore Art Playscape which is located at the National Gallery Singapore.
Parents play a critical role in their children’s lives so we partner closely with them to enhance the children’s learning. Daily updates are sent via our digital app, phone calls and email. We also invite parents to participate regularly in the children’s activities and hold half-yearly parents-teachers meetings as well as at our year-end open house.
Nurturing social-emotional development in children prepares them for a fulfilling and successful life down the road. By integrating these aforementioned strategies into everyday interactions, we can build a supportive environment where children feel heard, seen, understood, valued, and are capable of coping with the complexities of human relationships.
More importantly, you should remember that every child is unique, and these techniques should be adapted accordingly to suit their needs and temperaments. With some patience and over time, you will be able to help your child develop the social-emotional skills that will serve them throughout their lifetime.