From infancy, your child learns how to interact with others, develop new skills, communicate and manage emotions. Social and emotional development is crucial from a young age for optimum health and well-being, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Promote these aspects of your chid's development by facilitating a range of activities.
1. Play Games
Play teaches your child how to engage with the world from a very early age, says Pediatrics. Play can be educational as well as fun. Promote your child's social development by encouraging him to play games that require taking turns, sharing and cooperating. Provide a range of age-appropriate puzzles and board games for indoor play and organize races and tag for outdoor fun.
2. Encourage Role-Play
Encouraging your child to get involved in role-play helps boost social and emotional development because it requires both verbal and nonverbal communication. Put together a box or trunk of dress-up clothes, collect hand puppets and provide a range of props to stimulate your child's imagination during role-play. It will strengthen your child's vocabulary and language skills and will teach her the value of teamwork, sharing and empathy, says cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman in the Psychology Today article, "The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development."
3. Make Art
Creative activities provide your child with an outlet for emotional expression. Let your child experiment with different surfaces, tools and materials. To promote his emotional development, encourage him to enjoy the process of creating rather than just the end result, suggests the article "Development Benefits of Arts and Crafts," for SmartEarly Learning Centers. This type of "open-ended art" gives your child the chance to express himself and release stress without restrictions. Collaborating on art projects with other children will also benefit his social development, says SmartEarly Learning Centers. Kids have the pleasure of working together on something fun but also have to learn how to share and cooperate.
4. Lead by Example
Don't forget that your child looks to you to learn how to form relationships and cope with the world around her. Take advantage of every opportunity to model appropriate behavior. Spend time every day cuddling and talking to her. Interact with her through age-appropriate books and games. Teach her good manners by treating other people with courtesy. Socialize with friends and encourage her to foster healthy friendships too.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: The Social Emotional Development of Young Children
- Psychology Today: The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development
- Pediatrics: The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds
- SmartEarly Learning Centers: Development Benefits of Arts and Crafts
- Cameron Spencer/Photodisc/Getty Images