Early Childhood Development

Early Childhood Matters

Wondering about how to care for your new baby?

Unless the baby’s health care provider tells you that the baby has a special health problem that makes sleeping on her back unsafe, ALWAYS put the infant on her back to sleep at bedtime and naptime.

Remove stuffed animals, pillows or other soft, fluffy and loose bedding from the baby’s sleep area. This includes crib bumpers – they are still popular but they too can be a suffocation hazard.

Lay babies on their stomachs to play. Babies need time when they are awake to be on their tummies to exercise chest and arm muscles and develop head and neck control. This will also reduce flat or bald spots on baby’s head from the sleep position.

Want learn more? Here are some great online resources: Kidshealth.org  Dr Sears   Developing Bonding Video

Did you know?

A preschooler’s brain is more than twice as active as an adult’s brain. This allows them to process and retain new information quickly.

If a child is misbehaving or acting unusually, make sure that she is not hungry, bored, tired, feeling lonely, or getting sick. These are commons things that affect children’s behavior.

Children’s behavior often becomes disorganized as they are experiencing intense developmental changes. Understanding the underlying causes of these behaviors will help you respond more sensitively.

As a parent or caregiver, you are a very important role model for a developing young child. Do your best to exhibit behavior that you would like to see children imitate. But remember that it takes time for children to understand and recognize their feelings, and learn how to control their emotional states and behavior. Be patient as you guide them in acting appropriately.

Tips on Using Positive Guidance:

Guide children’s behavior with kindness and firmness.

Give children choices.

Give clear, simple directions.

Provide a safe and interesting play environment.

Set clear limits. Limits are not rules – they are flexible boundaries.

Help children successfully transition to new activities.

Be consistent.

Follow through.

Use praise and positive statements often.

Take action before a situation gets out of control.

Social Skill Development

Social skills are important for every individual to achieve success.  We use social skills at home, at work, in the community, and in our relationships.  All too often children with special needs have difficulty with social skills.  Luckily, any child or adult can learn appropriate social skills when given the chance.

Where to begin?
Complete a checklist of social skills appropriate to your child’s age and abilities. You can obtain a social skill checklist through your doctor, school, or by doing a simple google search. Speech therapists are also able to provide resources and exercises that may be useful to determining appropriate skills and developing them.  Once you have determined the area of need for your child, prioritize which social skills are most important for your child to learn. Choose one skill to work on at a time.

Process of Social Skill Learning
Young children

  1. Parallel Play – Have the child play next to you or a peer.Always start with a highly rewarding activity for the child, and then move to less rewarding activities.
  2. Sharing Materials – Once a child has master parallel play, work on sharing materials. Start by you sharing first.Encourage the child to share; gradual increase the time they share an item.
  3. Turn Taking – Depending on skill level, turns may be quick.Slowly work up to the child allowing a partner to have longer turns and taking more than one turn.

Older children

  1. Model the desired skill you want your child to learn.
  2. Show videos of the desired skill (www.youtube.com is great).
  3. Practice using role plays.
  4. Once they are comfortable using the skill, go into the community and put the skill into practice.

Where to Learn Social Skills
Opportunities to learn social skills surround us. Some individuals may benefit from participating in a social skills group hosted by a local counseling center, school, or therapy facility, or civic organization. Additionally, a family may use informal opportunities to help develop social skills. Your family can work on social skills at:

  • Parks,
  • Festivals,
  • Stores,
  • Sporting events,
  • Doctor offices.

Building your child’s social skills will give them confidence, improve communication, and develop curiosity.  Consult with your child’s teacher, therapists, or doctors for help and resources specific to your child’s needs.