A young child’s learning ability and development are impacted by a range of factors. One of these factors is a child’s social health. A young child’s social health is primarily based on the quality of his or her relationships with peers and adults in his or her life (United States Department of Education, n.d.). Some questions you can ask yourself about your child’s social-health well-being and development include the following:
- How open and enthusiastic is your child about sharing toys?
- To what extent is your child willing to engage in age-appropriate cooperation and problem-solving with peers?
When you ask yourself these questions, if you find your child is not demonstrating social skills at a level consistent with his or her peers there are things you can do to improve your child’s social health development.
- Encourage your child to engage in thick conversations with peers and other adults. Thick conversations are those in which a child is given many opportunities to speak by having the other participant ask open-ended questions and involve the child in back-and-forth conversations. While this may come more easily to some children, it is important that parents are warmly persistent. If your child seems uncomfortable, remain present during those exchanges to offer support or guidance.
- Give your child opportunities to engage in pretend play with peers. Pretend play gives children the opportunity to explore different roles in life and when the occasions are experienced with peers, aids in the development of cooperative skills. Don’t be afraid to play along and ask questions about what is happening in the play. This can also be another opportunity to engage in thick conversations.
- Choose media that reinforces positive social-health skills. Does the book you’re reading deal with making friends or sharing toys? Does the program your child is watching deal with the benefits of cooperating with peers? Ask your child questions about the themes you see in the media to help strengthen these learning experiences.
Developing the social health of your child will contribute to your child’s competencies, including empathy and self-control (United States Department of Education, n.d.). It is important for your child’s development that you encourage interactions with peers and adults that foster growth in your child’s social health.
Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. (n.d.). Family tools. http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/resources/family.html
United States Department of Education. (n.d.). Fostering healthy social and emotional development in young children. Tips for families. https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/talk-read-sing/feelings-families.pdf
United States Department of Education. (n.d.). Fostering healthy social & emotional development in young children. Tips for early childhood teachers and providers. https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/talk-read-sing/feelings-teachers.pdf