If there was one thing a parent could do today to help their child have a better future, what would it be?
We took this question to our early childhood health, development and education experts. They provided incredible doable tips. In this post, we’ll focus on social emotional development with the help of Angela M. Garcia, M.S., MFT, who oversees Family Service Association’s Kids 1st Program in Riverside County.
Here are some simple tips to try today:
1) Positive time- Take a few minutes each day to play with your child and point out the positive behaviors you like seeing. “I really like the way you are sharing your toys with me!” “Thank you for sitting with your bottom on the floor/chair!” Your young child, much like people in general, like to hear what they are doing well. Labeled and specific praise will increase desired behaviors. Playing with your child in a positive way will also help add warmth to the relationship. Before you know it, you will see a smile on your child and wear one yourself.
2) Modeling calm responses- Your young child(ren) might not yet know how to appropriately calm down and probably cries when something is wrong. Parents and caregivers are typically a child’s first model and they follow your lead. Modeling an appropriate reaction of being frustrated and self-soothing can teach children how to regulate their own emotions. For example the next time you get frustrated about something, pay attention to how you react. Next time, catch yourself before the response and verbally state out loud, “When I’m upset I like to take a deep breath to help calm down.” By modeling this skill in front of your child, they are more likely to try taking a deep breath, especially if you say it often. It will also help you to remain calm in tough situations by taking a deep breath.
The Family Service Association’s Kids 1st Program is part of First 5 Riverside’s Growing Healthy Minds Initiative, which focuses on increasing social development and preventing or treating disruptive behavior disorders among Riverside County children 0 through 5 years of age. For more parenting tips, visit GrowingHealthyMinds.org.
Next Week: Change Today for a Brighter Tomorrow Part III: A Tip So Tiny, You’ll Smile