SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT – A critical area of development that needs nurturing
The value of social development in children under 5 years old is crucial for their overall growth and well-being. During this stage of life, children are rapidly developing their social skills and learning how to interact with others. Social development encompasses various aspects, including emotional regulation, communication, empathy, and forming relationships and it is important to remember it is a learnt skill. Children under the age of five are learning so many new skills, self-regulation is one of them therefore at times they may display inappropriate social interactions.
Encouraging social development in young children can be done through various strategies and being in our care environment at Fit Kidz, this opportunity is provided daily. You can also support social development through playdates, group activities, and organised playgroups. These experiences allow children to practice sharing, taking turns, and cooperating with others.
Additionally, modelling positive social behaviours is crucial. Children learn by observing and imitating the actions of adults and older children around them. Therefore, it is important for parents, caregivers, and educators to demonstrate kindness, empathy, and good communication skills in their interactions with children.
We also create a supportive and inclusive environment which can be followed at home also. This has a big impact on fostering social development. By promoting diversity and inclusivity in books, toys, and activities, we encourage children to respect and appreciate differences in others and this helps them develop empathy and understanding.
Teaching social skills explicitly through our Be Me program with stories and puppets with important messages such as kindness, how to greet others, take turns, share, and resolve conflicts peacefully and role-playing, using social stories can be effective tools in teaching these skills.
Lastly, providing positive reinforcement and praise for appropriate social behaviours and explaining what you observed can encourage children to continue practicing and developing their social skills. Recognising and celebrating their efforts and achievements in social interactions can boost their self-confidence and motivation. Mastering social skills is a lifelong practise for all of us and supporting children in this area of development is essential to their well-being.