Supporting the social and emotional competence of your children
Living with young children is an emotional experience! They are funny, and lovable, and frustrating and exhausting- sometimes all at the same time; and this can take a toll on your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Even when you know that most young children often exhibit challenging behaviors, it won’t ease your concerns or anxieties. What makes them act that way?
Teaching young children about sharing, cooperation, and taking turns can make parenting easier and reduce stress in the home. Social and emotional competence means helping children learn to handle their feelings, a complicated and long-term task.
Working with your children to help them:
- Feel loved, safe and special
- Feel competent and confident about all the things they can do
- Build relationships
- Develop friendships
- Learn how to follow directions
- Learn to manage their emotions
- Let us know what their behavior is trying to communicate, and
- Learn new skills to replace challenging behavior.
What do you do to help your children feel loved, safe and special?
Do you know their particular talents and friends? Social connections begin early, and we model much of the behavior that will be imitated by our children- so be friendly and remember that you need friends too. They can help you with social-emotional competence on several levels.
If your children are in child care, you can talk to staff about your concerns and any challenging behaviors you are concerned about. These folks live with this all the time, so learn about the strategies being used in the classroom, and think about your children’s behavior in the larger framework of social and emotional development.
Arts and crafts can also be used to encourage children’s social and emotional expression - sometimes literally illustrating difficulties they are having in their lives. Take time to draw and paint together at home, and ask them to tell you about their pictures.
Cultural expectations may vary widely among families in any community and it is important to make sure that social and emotional development activities are culturally compatible. Some cultures value independence while others venerate cooperation; but a different viewpoint may provide a new strategy for you in approaching tricky behavior situations.