Category Archives: Social & Emotional

How to practice positive communication with my child

As parents, we are constantly being put in the position to say “no” to our children –and for good reason! “Can I have cake for dinner?”, “can I paint on the wall?”, “can I have (another) toy car?”. Those requests call for an automatic and definitive “No!”. Or do they? There can be more options than simply saying no to your child, options that are just as clear, but also show that you hear what she’s saying, and understand why she wants what she wants.

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Scaffolding: Empowering my child through play

As your little one develops her sense of confidence and independence, she’ll need you to make her feel capable. Scaffolding is a learning process in which an adult supports a child’s development by providing a little help when necessary. Scaffolding allows the person to connect existing knowledge to new knowledge, skills, and further understanding. Successful scaffolding happens in what the pioneer psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1931) introduced as “zone of proximal development” (ZPD). The ZPD is the difference between what the child can do and learn on his own, and what he can do and learn with the help of someone more experienced.

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Developing independence: Encouraging my toddler to play alone

Play is an essential part of your child’s development. Here’s where he learns how the world works, develops relationships, and builds the skills he’ll need for everyday activities. An important part of this stage involves your little one learning how to explore and play by himself. Learning this provides him with opportunities to understand how objects work, be creative, foster his self-esteem, and get motivated to take on future challenges. As little as 9-10 months you can encourage your child to play alone while you remain nearby. How?

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Developing independence: Teaching your little one to self-feed

At around 18 months your child will be able to use utensils and drinking cups during meal times. However, before he reaches this stage, at 7-8 months he’ll start using his fingers to grab his food; this is where the fun begins. Let’s take a look at how these next months will look like!

8-12 months
Your little one will be excited to eat just about anything you put in front of him. Get ready, because these months will be as messy and smelly as they can get. Don’t worry if, at the beginning, he starts “playing with the food”; this is him experimenting his independence and control. Remember that during this time he’s all about imitating your expressions and simple actions, so, instead of getting alarmed, teach him with your example how to do it. It might be inconvenient to let him explore his food every time he eats but try to reserve some time for doing just that every chance you have. This way he’ll start learning to eat by himself.

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What makes a child shy?

We all know that each person has a different personality, and that some are more sociable and others more shy. We even notice these qualities in children and babies! But what makes a child shy?

Of course, temperament plays a role. Temperament is the innate part of a person’s personality, one that is apparent and not likely to change much throughout life. Thus, someone’s temperament can make him or her more or less likely to be shy and avoid social situations. However, not everything is set on stone, temperament can be slightly modified by experiences and interactions, especially during the early years. Continue reading

When partners become parents

If you are a new parent, or are about to become one, your relationship and partnership life will change and go through an adaptation process as you welcome a new member to the family. One of the most important things is to acknowledge this process as something normal and embrace the changes and learnings that come with it.

Many articles have been written on the importance of the partnership life of parents in their individual well-being. And, hey, having a healthy and communicative relationship with your partner also impacts positively on your skills as parents! A 2013 study by psychologists Clark, Young, and Dow from the University of South Florida suggested that improving the quality of a couple’s relationship has a significant implication in parenting attitudes. More specifically, researchers found that, after a 6-week workshop of relationship skills (increased communication, affectional expression, consensus, and satisfaction), the couples not only improved their partnership, but their parenting attitudes improved as well. Parents became more empathic towards their child’s needs, diminished their beliefs in corporal punishment, and increased their patience.

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How to play with your little one

It’s well known that play is crucial for the development of babies and toddlers. It’s how they explore and learn new things about the world, acquire new skills, practice their creativity, and experience social interactions. Here are a few tips for you to get the most out of this time of the day!

Follow your little one’s lead when playing. Don’t worry if he doesn’t use a certain toy the way it’s supposed to be used, let him explore and teach you new ways to have fun.

Be patient. Show your little one how the toys work, but let him have his time handling them. Provide just enough help, but don’t do everything for him, even if it takes him more time to complete challenges.

Pay attention to your little one’s cues. Because he’s still developing language skills and self-control, he might not always know how to say what he wants or how to react when he’s frustrated. But if you pay attention and read his signals, you could jump in before he gets overly upset. These signals could be anything from sounds to facial expressions and gestures. Continue reading

Children’s theory of mind

As adults, we understand that others have their own thoughts, beliefs, and desires; that is, they have their own way of thinking. But we’ve not always been aware of this. To be able to make accurate deductions about others’ intentions and beliefs, children need to develop a theory of mind. To illustrate this with an example let’s tell a brief story. “A little girl places all her toy blocks in one container and then leaves the room. Meanwhile, someone comes in and rearranges the room, changing the blocks to a different box. Later, the little girl returns and wants to build a block tower. Where would she look for the blocks?”. As different studies have shown, younger kids will probably answer that she would open the box where the blocks actually are, and it’s not until about 4 or 5 years of age that children understand that what the little girl believes is not necessarily what is real, thus they will be able to answer that she would look in the original container where she placed the blocks.

Having a theory of mind has a huge impact on children, as it transforms the way they are able to see others and make sense of their actions. Basically, the theory of mind serves children in two major developmental areas: social and cognitive. Continue reading

When will my little one collaborate?

If collaborating with another person is not always an easy task for us, imagine what it’s like for your little one!

Collaborating means that two or more individuals work together to reach a common goal, each of them has an individual role during the process, and, in the end, the reward is shared accordingly among them. Besides, collaborating involves advanced cognitive and social skills that allow children to understand that when you agree to do something, there is a cultural expectation for people to comply. For example, if a kid says to him “Let’s build a tower” and he answers “Okay!”, he has agreed to collaborate, and a mutual obligation has been created between the two of them. So, is cooperating really that complicated for your child? Absolutely not! Your little one might surprise you with how smart he is. Of course, development is a gradual process and it all depends on what stage your little one is in. Some studies have found interesting results that show children’s ability to collaborate at different stages.

Although babies as young as 6 months can show interest in other babies, at this stage interactions between them are rare. Sometimes they can cooperate with adults at simple games and may understand other people’s intentions and goals by reading their behavior. However, this is not enough for them to assimilate their own purpose with that of a peer and work together to achieve a goal. Thus, coordinated activity between two babies this age will be uncommon and will most likely be due to coincidence rather than cooperation, as they are not yet able to take their peer’s actions into account, even when these could help them achieve their own goals.

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What’s behind a resilient child?

As a parent or caregiver, we know you want to teach your child how to be resilient and capable of overcoming any difficult circumstance that might present to him. But how can you be sure that you are actually helping your little one become an independent and successful individual? Well, no matter what the hardship is, research has shown that having at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent or caregiver is the most common characteristic amongst kids that do well. But let’s take a deeper dive into this.

Let’s start with what is resilience. You may find different definitions for this word, but essentially, resilience involves a positive and adaptive response to adversity. Now, what are the key factors that promote resilience in your little one? We’ve already mentioned the most significant one: supportive relationships. These will protect him from developmental disruption by providing personalized responsiveness. Plus, they’ll help him build important skills, like planning, regulating behavior, and adapting, that will allow him to respond to difficulties and thrive. Continue reading