Social and Emotional Development
A child saying “no” to their parents or refusing to cooperate with requests is an everyday occurrence in most households. We want to foster our children’s independence and decision-making; however, things need to get done. Giving your child closed-ended options is a great way to allow them some control by giving them options within a non-negotiable adult request, for example, brushing teeth!
- When- “Do you want to brush your teeth in 1 minute or 2 minutes?”
- Where- “Are we brushing teeth standing on the stool or floor?”
- After- “What book do you want to pick out after you’ve finished brushing teeth?”
- During- “You pick a song for me to sing while you brush your teeth.”
Professional Tip: You may need to get creative, but there are endless possibilities for giving a child closed-ended options around a non-negotiable request.
A common regulation strategy parents tell their child is to “take a deep breath.” While this is a way to relax the body and focus on a neutral task, children need to be taught how to take a deep breath specifically. Remember, practice new skills outside the heat of the moment, when the child is already calm and happy to participate. The good news is that learning to take deep breaths is fun!
- When your child is blowing bubbles, point out to them when their lungs are full of air and when their lungs feel empty. Practice short breaths and long breaths. See how the bubbles change with their change in their breath.
- Put a straw in a glass of water. Ask your child to take a deep breath in and then blow it out through the straw. “Look how powerful your breath is!”
- Hand candles. Hold up your hand in front of your child’s face and then ask them to blow out the candles. When your child blows, lower one of your fingers. “You blew out a candle!” Continue until your child has blown out all 5 of your hand candles.
Professional Tip: Encourage your child to take slow and steady breaths as you are teaching them to calm their bodies and heart rates.
Children focus on how everything is about them. It is a typical phase of child development and there is nothing wrong with that, children need to develop their own ideas and beliefs. It is also important to help your child see that other people have their own thoughts, attitudes, ideas, and feelings. The following activities will help!
- Hide and seek: This is a great game that children love and one of the first activities where a child begins to truly understand that they do not know what the other person is thinking. When it is your child’s turn to hide, they start to realize that their thoughts are separate and undetectable from that of another person.
- Talk about unexpected behaviour. When your child does something that shocks or surprises you, tell them that what they did was unexpected. “You yelling in my ear was unexpected, it scared me.” Then support your child through what the expected behaviour would be. “If you want my attention ask for a hug, then I know what you are thinking.”
Professional tip: Take opportunities to talk about how you like one thing but how your child likes another. “I like chocolate ice-cream, but I know strawberry is your favourite.” This will help reinforce the idea that people have different thoughts and preferences.