Social and Emotional Development
Childhood affirmations. Positive statements can help us think differently in our everyday lives. By using positive language, we are helping our brain develop more adaptive and purposeful thinking habits and self-talk. Your child is the same! Use statements that start with “I” and then have your child repeat you when the situation arises. The following are positive statements that you can model to your child with the hopes that they will independently use this language to persevere or change negative thinking.
- I can do it
- I am learning
- I can keep trying
- I am good at ____
- I can be kind to my family
- I make mistakes and I can try again
- I know that it is ok to be sad and I will be happy again
- I have ___ in my life that makes me happy
- I can talk about how I feel
- I know ____ is here to help me
Professional Tip: Teaching positive self-talk to children when they are young is a proactive step in social and emotional learning. Proactive means that you are teaching the child adaptive skills before their little brains develop negative thinking habits that are more difficult to change.
Regulation and food. Eating is something that parents often think is a natural and easy process. When there are difficulties at the table with a child eating, it can catch many parents off guard. Supporting regulation at mealtimes means that your child is calm, engaged, and able to be an active participant in their food experience. Here are some ways to encourage self-regulation at mealtimes:
- Trust your child. When a parent thinks that their child is not eating enough, they may become anxious for their child to consume more. Regulation when eating means that you are encouraging your child to listen to their body. Ask your child questions like, “is your tummy telling you that you need more food, or is it telling you that you are full?” Although behaviour struggles ultimately do come up at mealtimes, try to remember that you are helping your child learn their body and the signals it sends.
- Table vs. island. Many homes have an island where there are pull-up stools. Serving food on the island is a fast way to get food on a table, but this can mean that a child isn’t sitting across from an adult who is providing an appropriate eating model. Sitting at the table for at least one meal a day gives the child an opportunity to look at, socialize, and learn how to regulate their body while eating (i.e., breathing, moving, eye contact, talking).
Professional tip: It takes a lot of effort, time, and energy for parents to teach their children how to eat. Making the experience fun and free of distractions (e.g., T.V. or other screen times) is one of the most important things you can do for your child’s long term eating success.
Sensory play can be any play that has your child using their different senses to explore. Sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing are all important components of fun sensory play and important for brain development. Stimulating a child’s senses creates neural pathways in the brain that link the child’s external environment to internal body processes and cues. Further, the more exposure that a child has with different sensory experiences, the more a child can cognitively process how to respond to that specific stimulation. If a child does not like touching or interacting with sensory material (e.g., slime, finger paint), there are always modifications to make so the child can gain exposure on a level they are comfortable with. Using a spoon to interact with slime instead of their fingers is an example. Eventually with exposure, most children will learn to love sensory play, even the messy kind.
Professional tip: Sensory play can be calming for some children while other children may find it exciting. Watch how your child responds to sensory play, as it can be a great strategy to support your child’s regulation.