Our day care is an environment where strong social connections, both physical and verbal, occur and in many cases, these have been so strong they have extended into the adult lives of the children.
Currently we are witnessing a bond that developed visibly between 14 month old Sarah and 13 month old Jack.
At this time, Sarah had been with us for four months and Jack was joining a day care for the first time. They are both independent and very self-sufficient for their ages.
It took Jack a few days to become oriented and then decided that Sarah had something he liked and needed.
Without any specific encouragement on our part, they began seeking each other out and sharing more time together while they both explored their options. What was especially interesting is they are both strong willed and independent yet they communicated and played in complete harmony.
I think they benefited most from an environment where they are given the freedom and responsibility to entertain themselves and therefor respond to their individual feelings and needs.
They are our most recent example of the ability of very young children to identify and expand on their feelings and needs when an environment is created that allows them to explore and make choices without adult persuasion and interference.
Most parents feel the need to direct and control every action of a young child. Experiences and opportunity tells us that they can make choices to satisfy their needs and in fact, when given a safe and supportive environment, will be able to accomplish this at a much younger age than most people believe.
-Ensure your child’s environment in the first two years gives them the freedom to explore their world independently.
-When organizing playdates, make sure your child is given the time and opportunity to select and play with objects they want to interact with.
-Give them space and time to solve their own problems. In most cases when they become frustrated they only need a small key to find success. Give them advice and let them continue independently.
-Introduce them to a variety of friends.
-Seek a social environment where you will be effectively removed from their sight. This should occur periodically. Make sure the supervisor/educator has and displays your philosophies and goals.
-Consider your role to be an entertainer- you are their teacher, give them time to learn.
-Underestimate their ability. By the time they have mastered a skill, they are already thinking at the next level-make it available. Everyone advances at their own pace.
-Underestimate them: watch for their reaction to new situations. Give them time to evaluate and adjust.
Your child is the ultimate work in progress! Encourage their interests and natural curiosity.
High levels of self-esteem come from this approach!