The Power of Parenting

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Comfort, Play & Teach Tips: How can I promote my child’s healthy social development?

Q:Comfort, Play & Teach Tips: How can I promote my child’s healthy social development?

Every day, there are plenty of opportunities to use Comfort, Play & Teach: A Positive Approach to Parenting. The following examples show how you can support the social development of your baby, toddler or preschooler while doing your routine errands.

If your child is a baby:

  • When you are running errands with your baby, he often gets lots of attention from the people around you. He sees many new faces and hears new voices, so make sure to talk to him and let him see that you are close to him so he feels comforted by your presence. This will help him develop a sense of security and give him the confidence to face unfamiliar people and surroundings.
  • You will also find that your baby is interested in the other babies you meet along the way. Don’t hesitate to stop for a few minutes and let your child interact and play with them; they may “socialize” by making eye contact and communicating through sounds or gestures.
  • When you leave the house and return, say “Good-bye” and “Hello” to other family members. Over time, this teaches your baby that he always comes back to his family, and that he can trust them to return when they go out too.

If your child is a toddler:

  • Praise your toddler for her good behaviour when you go out in public together. For example, when you are at the bank, say things like “I’m so proud of you for being patient while we are waiting in line”. This will give your child a sense of comfort and help her feel good about her skills.
  • Make play a part of your errands by making a stop at the park or by inviting another parent and child to come along so that your child can enjoy interacting with other children in different environments. This will make errands more fun for both of you and help your child learn to interact with others.
  • Outings with your toddler are full of opportunities to teach your child to respect limits and obey rules. Remember that children are more likely to cooperate and comply with your requests when you teach them in a positive way by saying things like “Please hold my hand when walk on the sidewalk” instead of “Don’t let go of my hand”.

If your child is a preschooler:

  • Give your child a special responsibility, such as choosing which kinds of fruit you buy. Letting your preschooler express his independence is comforting to him and helps him gain confidence and a stronger sense of self.
  • When you get back home, play pretend games with your child to give him a chance to explore in more detail some of things you have done on your errands. For example, take turns pretending you are the post-office clerk and costumer, and help your child think of what he would say in these situations to help him practice different types of social interactions.
  • Teach your child some valuable pro-social skills by encouraging him to carry a small bag for you, asking him to help you keep an eye on his little sister, and showing him how to put his used wrappers, juice bottles, etc. in garbage cans and recycling bins.