The Path for Positive Social-Emotional Development
All parents want their children to grow up confident in themselves and engaged in healthy relationships. The question is… how do we support our children to get there? Sometimes having more information about what those early building blocks look like, can help us realize how we can support our little ones in the moment. It turns out, it’s a lot simpler than it seems.
Infants benefit from experiencing a healthy attachment with their caregivers. Attachment is the relationship a child has with their primary caregiver. When an attachment is healthy (or secure) children can internalize feelings of love, safety and connection with their attachment figure. This means that they can carry these feelings with them out into the world. Caregivers can support healthy attachment through the following actions:
- Providing access to food, clothing and shelter for your infant
- Providing protection from harm or danger
- Offering structure and routine for daily living
- Offering emotional attunement (comfort when your child needs it, or a smile back when your child smiles up at you)
- Engaging in mutual eye gazing
- Offering safe and gentle touch (hugs, snuggles etc)
- Offering opportunities for exploration and cognitive stimulation (play and games)
- Engaging in shared attention
- Talking with your infant (even if your child is still in the babbling stage!)
- Reading to your infant
There are many ways to incorporate all of these things into your family’s daily life. Some of these things may seem pretty basic- like- it’s probably pretty clear by now that it is helpful to feed your infant. What we love about this list is the clarity that healthy attachment can be built on a very basic foundation of caregiving and love. When we provide for our infant’s basic needs, and offer emotional support to your infant, you are building a foundation that they can carry on with them throughout their life and into their future relationships. The Slumberkins Snuggler Collections are designed to support parents and children in these connection-based interactions.
It doesn’t take long for our little babies to start moving and exploring as they prepare to take on the rest of the world! This process seems, to many of us, to occur in the blink of an eye. As children enter the toddler phase, their curiosity really takes off. Exploring can often take the form of imaginative play, asking lots of questions, and even pushing boundaries. This phase is so important, because children take this learning with them into adulthood. The most important part of this learning is what deep beliefs they learn about themselves and the world around them. If they learn that feelings are healthy and welcomed, they will likely feel more comfortable coping with their feelings in the future, if they learn that feelings aren’t safe or OK, they will take this learning with them into adulthood. Children can explore even the most difficult of topics through the safe and fun avenue of play, and here are some ways caregivers can support this process:
- Continue to offer your young one, all of the things listed above for healthy attachment. Toddlers still need lots of love, nurturing and attunement during this time, and for years to come!
- Offer opportunities to explore a variety of topics around social-emotional wellness (see Slumberkins.com for more ideas for topics and tools).
- Offer ample opportunities for exploration and play
- Offer open-ended toys, to promote imaginative play (this means toys that have more than one way to use them).
- Validate and empathize with all feelings. Show your child feelings are safe and welcomed.
- Don’t be afraid to express your own feelings in front of your child, as well as model healthy ways to cope with them
- Let your child try new things, and let them make mistakes
- Offer positive messages (“We believe in you”)
- Play with your child
- Read stories about a variety of characters and a variety of topics to widen your child’s world.
There are many opportunities in the day to support your child’s amazing curiosity. This is only a short list of some of the ways caregivers can support toddlers during this developmental phase. Remember, young children are like little scientists, trying to figure out how everything in their world works. The Slumberkins Kins Collections were developed to continue to support building connections and attachment while adding elements to spark imagination and curiosity around important social-emotional topics.
Parents and caregivers are always the most important people in a child’s life to support children’s feelings of safety, security and wellness. When we understand that the journey towards positive social emotional development can start from day one build from there, we can move through each moment with intention.