- Author: Sue S. Manglallan
Social Emotional Preparation of Young Children
Social skill development is critical for school success. Many kindergarten teachers even rate the need for social skills such as the ability to follow instructions, sit attentively for up to 15 minutes, care for oneself, and get along with others as being more necessary than some academic readiness skills. Kindergarten will be a new environment for children and will pose challenges. Helping children prepare for some of these changes will make the transition easier.
Parents can help their children develop qualities that will help them adjust to school. These include confidence, independence, motivation, curiosity, persistence, cooperation, and self-control. The most important thing parents can do to teach these qualities is to model these behaviors themselves. Parents should set good examples for their children. Children imitate what they see and hear.
Parents should encourage children to do many things by themselves. Although young children need lots of supervision, there are things they can do for themselves. Independence and self-confidence are developed by doing things for themselves, such as dressing themselves and putting away their toys. Parents can also give children choices rather than decide everything for them.
The school setting requires that children behave in a responsible manner. This ability starts with positive discipline in the home. Children need to have limits set for them. Children whose parents give firm but loving discipline are generally more socially skilled and do better in school than children whose parents set too few or too many limits.
Parents help their children become caring, competent people by providing a good example teaching, setting rules, and disciplining children when rules are broken. Good discipline is the act of love; it is an important part of parenting. Here are some tips for developing good disciple practices.
Start with Prevention
• Think Ahead- Try to prevent poor behavior. Take games along on long car rides, rehearse good behavior before major social events and set ground rules for shopping trips and other activities.
• Reduce Stress – Stress can cause poor behavior. Help children feel loved and safe. Be sure they eat and sleep well, and mix quiet time with active.
• Teach Good Behavior- Talk to children about what you consider good behavior. Practice what you teach. Catch children being good, and praise them for it.
• Keep It Positive – tell children what behavior you want, rather than what you don't want. Instead of, “don't leave your toys on the floor,” try saying, “I want you to pick up your toys and put them away.” Let children choose something rather than telling them not to do something. Instead of saying “you can't go out without a coat,” try asking, “Do you want to wear your coat or your sweater?” This gives the child a sense of control.
Use Rules Thoughtfully
• Make Rules Clear – Explain the rules and reasons for them in ways your child can understand. You set the rules, but listen and respond to your child's ideas about them. Parents can begin to use very simple rules by the time is about 14 months old.
• Set Enforceable Rules – Rules only work if children are able to follow them and if parents can consistently enforce them. Don't break your own rules.