There are basically five stages of human development, namely infancy (0-2 years), childhood (2-12 years), adolescence (13-19 years), adulthood (20-65 years), old age (65 and above). Since human development is a progression and a lifetime activity, a whole lot of changes take place in phases all through our lifetime. In this piece, I am going to x-ray the different social development that takes place in children.
SOCIAL EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The early life of a child is characterized by emotions such as mood swings, temper and tantrums. This stage is commonly referred to as “terrible two’s”. At this stage, toddler’s feelings and emotions are not only intense but are also short lived. In a blink, a toddler can go from crying and screaming about a particular food, toy, or dress he wants to quietly sitting, and smiling in front of a television the next moment.
At this stage, children tend to find it difficult to get along with others in certain areas or skills. They can also be possessive with their stuffs and show some form of jealousy when they see their mum carrying or talking to another child. Though children spend most of their infancy glued to their mother, siblings, and family, but in the next couple of years the child will start spending most of his time playing, interacting and learning with other kids in school and in the neighborhood rather than his family and close relatives.
The social-emotional development stage is very essential to readying children for school, because school requires skills, such as; paying attention to illustrations, cooperating with other kids, and moving from one task/activity to another. Therefore a child who has a good social-emotional development is likely going to find it easy to blend into the school system, be attentive, focus, and do well generally in academics.
HOW TO HELP KIDS DEVELOP SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL SKILLS
The social development of children is not just about a child’s ability to cooperate with his or her peers; it also includes things like ability to share things with others, learning to show gratitude, and ability to show empathy.
The following are some of the things you could do to inculcate the above mentioned skills into your child.
1: FORTIFY AND ENCOURAGE GOOD BEHAVIORS
Every time your child shows a good gesture or behavior, you should encourage the child. This way you make the child feel good about his or herself and it will also make the child understand that such behavior is desirable and earns praises. This act of making children feel good about themselves plays a pivotal role in inculcating the sense of empathy and emotional nous in the child. When you create this kind of positive energy and environment around a child, the child will feel free to express his or her feelings. This will make the child to naturally develop a generous mind and also become more thoughtful. Encouraging good behavior has proven to be a productive way of fostering social development in infants.
2: TEACH EMPATHY
You can build a child’s emotional intelligence and empathy by always encouraging the child to consider how others feel. How can you do this? Simple! Start by asking the child how he or she feels. Questions like ” how did you feel when this or that happened to you?” Once the child opens up on his or her own feelings, you can relate the child’s feeling to others by asking questions like “how do you think Mary will feel about this?”. By asking these types of questions, you will make the child to be able to relate his own feelings to that of others. The child will be able to understand how other people around him feels about events; that way the child will naturally start developing a sense of empathy.This will awaken in the child the imagination of how their actions impact on feelings of the people around them.
3: TEACH COOPERATION
Truly, no man is an island and a tree can never make a forest. That is to say, without cooperation no one can survive alone. Since your kid is ready to go to school where cooperation is a necessary skill for excellence, therefore teaching your kid to cooperate even before going to school is a big plus. One way of teaching cooperation is by giving the child the opportunity to interact and play with other kids. Though most times toddlers find it frustrating to play with other kids who are their mates, this is largely due to the fact that kids are usually possessive and lacks patience. But gradually with age and constant practice, the kid will definitely improve in this aspect.
As they continue to play and interact with each other, they will start learning problem solving skills. Actually, in the beginning of this attempt, there might be constant quarrels and arguments with their peers, and even siblings, but finally they will learn how to compromise and even negotiate their way out of these conflicts. Once children learn to cooperate with their peers, their social development journey is already on the right track
4: LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Kids learn a lot of new things via observation. They tend to model after their parents and older siblings. Therefore if you want your child to learn certain behavioral methods, you might do well to behave like that, so that they can observe and learn. Not just behaving that way, also make all the members of your household to behave that way so that the toddler can learn through observation. If your child sees you being helpful and generous to others, expressing gratitude, sharing feelings, the child will learn to do the same without being told. For example if you are the type that always say “please” before making a request or “thank you” whenever someone does something for you, your child will learn to use those expressions whenever similar situations arise.
Though infancy can be unpredictable and confusing to a parent, generally due to the unpredictable life of infants as regards to their incessant mood swings, anger, and tantrums, the onus falls on the parents to help galvanize their toddlers and help their social development so that they can fit into their next stage of life which is childhood and school life. This galvanization can be achieved through reinforcing good behaviors, teaching empathy, cooperation, and by modelling your behavior and that of everyone in the family to create a positive environment for the toddler to copy and emulate from.