Children and socializing go hand in hand. And for good reason! Socializing with other kids around their own age is needed for your child’s social-emotional development. Socializing is also good for their mental health. Without it your child may begin to act out due to frustration.
“But we are in the middle of a pandemic!” I hear you! I really do! But socialization is so important for your child! There ARE SAFE ways to socialize during a pandemic. Try out these ideas:
- Go Digital!
– Seriously, thank goodness for technology! Let your child Facetime, SnapChat, play online games, etc. with their friends and family.
- Scavenger Hunts.
– Try a neighborhood scavenger hunt! Kids get to work together for a common goal while staying socially distant.
- Go old school.
– Write or draw pictures to snail mail to friends and family.
No matter how you choose to socalize just remember to avoid the 3 C’s:
- Closed Spaces
- Crowded Places
- Close Contact
And of course…..Don’t Forget To Wash Your Hands!
Opportunities to develop independence are immensely important for building a sense of self and self-esteem–not to mention frustration tolerance and perseverance. Sure, letting children carry out tasks often means the task will take twice as long (and be twice as messy), and it can be hard to watch your child try, fail and feel frustrated or disappointed, but it’s a good thing for them! How can you help your child develop independence? Well…
Set predictable routines.
Establishing a consistent routine is important for nurturing independence. Just like us adults, when children can anticipate their day, they are better equipped to take on responsibilities. Now, don’t confuse a routine with a schedule, while they may overlap, a routine is any sequence of events that occurs throughout the day. Such as brushing teeth, because it has multiple steps that always go in the same order.
As children experience these routines over and over they will learn to anticipate what comes next and start to take on more responsibility with less help. If you let your child do some of the prep work (like putting the toothpaste on the toothbrush) they will increasingly take on more of these steps on their own. You are also communicating to them that you have faith in their ability to do these things without you but you are there to help if they need it.
Let your child choose.
Give your child choices. Involve them in deciding what to wear, play, or what to eat. Now this doesn’t mean they have free rein! Provide them will 2 or 3 choices, and then praise their great ability to make a choice! Even if your child is upset and having a tantrum, choices will often help them regain a sense of control. For example, if you’re child is upset because they cannot cross the street by themselves offer them the choice to either hold your hand or be carried. They get to feel in control, while you get to keep them safe.
Let your child help.
Children love to help! Not only does it build independence, but it is also a great way to calm a tantrum or redirector a behavior by giving the child a sense of control. When you allow your child to help, you are fostering their confidence and giving them an opportunity to learn something new. You are communicating to your child that you trust them and these moments provide an opportunity for a back and forth conversation.
Give your child chores.
That’s right. I said it! Even a preschooler can help with chores. Of course chores for your preschooler will look different than your chores for older children, BUT they are important for building up to larger tasks. Research supports chores for children as a way of building their confidence, teaching teamwork, and responsibility.
Let your child solve problems.
Allow your child to try things that are hard and to solve small problems on their own. When children are first learning to crawl or walk, we must let them fall. Well, when children are learning to put on their shoes, we must allow them to put them on the wrong feet first. Wait for your child to ask for help or provide a small hint to get them to the next step. Don’t do it for them!
Nurture free play.
Independent and unstructured play is so important for fostering creativity, problem-solving, and autonomy. However, most preschool children will still need (and want) engagement from parents during unstructured play. Offer your child a variety of things and see what they are drawn to. Use these observations to guide and extend their play. As you watch though, try not to intervene. Comment on what they are doing and praise their efforts, but again don’t do it for them!
What to say.
Children need to know that you see them. You see their efforts, persistence, bravery, and growth. By commenting on these things you are giving positive attention to the qualities you want to foster and making it more likely that these behaviors will continue.
We all know how important a balanced diet is for us as adults, but it’s even more so for children. But why? And what do pediatricians recommend for a balanced diet?
Children who are a balanced diet experience so many health benefits like…
Brain Development: Poor nutrition has been shown to restrict brain development and IQ levels in children. It may also cause issues with attention span and behavior.
Growth: Children grow so quickly! And that takes lots of nutrients and energy to do so. A balanced diet helps ensure your child is getting what they need to grow.
Lower Obesity Rates: Obesity affects 1 in 3 children. A balanced diet (along with exercise) helps lower that risk for your child.
Healthy Choices: Children who eat a balanced diet and are encouraged to make healthy choices are more likely to continue to throughout their lifetime.
What is a balanced diet for a preschooler?
Grains: 3 to 5 oz. a day. Preferably half of them as whole grains.
Veggies: 1 to 1 & 1/2 cups a day.
Fruits: 1 to 1 & 1/2 cups a day. Try to limit juices to 100% fruit juice, and only 4 to 6 oz. per day.
Milk – 2 to 2 & 1/2 cups a day.
Protein 2 to 4 oz. a day.
Limits sweets and excessive sodium as well.
The CDC recommends that children get AT LEAST 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity everyday. But aside from the obvious reason (exercise), why is outdoor play so important?
Improves Physical Development
Running, jumping, sliding, swinging, hopping, throwing…all of these are motor skills. When playing outside children get the chance to work on the gross motor skill development. Which is just as important as fine motor skills. Think about it…a 3 year old can typically hop on one foot for just a moment, but by age 5 that same child is standing still on one foot with their eyes closed! But you can’t just go from A to C without stopping by step B first!
While playing outside children get to be in the sun. Sunlight stimulates the pineal gland, which keeps the immune system strong! Children are also getting most of their Vitamin D through sunlight exposure.
Being out in the sun doesn’t just help children’s immune systems. It also helps to regulate their internal clocks, which can help them fall asleep easier at night.
Improves Social Development
Playing outside with other children gives kids a chance to work on their social and communication skills. It also gives children a chance to learn the value of diversity and empathy.
When children play outside regularly they are happier! They get to use their imagination more which leads them to being better playmates for their friends and better problem solvers later in life.
Gain Knowledge and Appreciation for Nature
One day our children will be the ones running the world! Don’t we want them to gain a knowledge and appreciation for the places they call home?
Outdoor play is ESSENTIAL for education.
“How did you get my kid to take a nap! She/He hasn’t napped at home since they were 2!”
“How do you manage to keep all the kids in the same place?”
“How do you do it?!”
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked these very same questions over the years. And my answer is always the same:
“The kids know our schedule and routine. So they know what comes next in our day and what is expected of them.”
Keeping to a schedule and having a routine is important to your little one. But, why?
Consistency gives kids a sense of security.
When children know what to expect in their typical day they feel a sense calm and security.
Schedules help build trust between children and their teachers.
Younger children begin to understand that the adults in their lives will take care of their needs on a regular basis.
Inconsistency creates anxiety for many children.
When there are too many unknowns happening for the child, it can create anxiety. For example, they may cry or become irritable.
Allow for some flexibility within the day.
Schedules should also be somewhat flexible. The times may fluctuate a little throughout the day, and that’s perfectly fine. However, I do recommend keeping to a strict meal/nap schedule. (Hangry and tired children are never a good thing!)
Parents should be as consistent as possible when children are at home.
Parents are busy at home, and I get it! However, even having just a simple schedule and routine for your child will make them feel amazing!