Social and Emotional

T is for Thank You and Time Together

T is for thank you and time together and how these influence children, especially in terms of social and emotional growth and development. The next alphabet letter for October’s posts isn’t T, but it is Thanksgiving in Canada, if not in the US or Mexico, and that’s one-third of North America. sunbeam in autumnSaying thank you is more than an courteous social skill. It’s an attitude that affects our interactions with others and even our mental health and well-being. Kids are often not grateful to adults at all. At this age, they are very egocentric, but we can help them with learning how and when to use the words to say thank you, as well as please, you’re welcome, and others. Did you know that social skills will tremendously impact children’s success not just at school, but afterwards as well? The American Journal of Public Health published some research that followed a group for twenty years from the time they started kindergarten. The results indicated that when it came to success academic skills were overshadowed by social skills. Host, Audie Cornish, of NPR National Public Radio discussed the findings in her podcast Nice Kids Finish First. She suggested that putting ourselves in a group of kindergarten kids and…

“try and predict which one of them might finish college and get a good job two decades down the road. Is it the kid who knows her ABCs or the kid who has a good memory? Well, new research has tracked children from kindergarten into young adulthood, and it’s found that the most important predictors of long-term success are not intellectual skills but social and emotional ones.”

fall time togetherWhile this is the date for Thanksgiving in Canada, it’s also the date for Columbus Day in the US and many families will have a long weekend. Besides being grateful, there are other considerations like having time to be together. These connections to a group help children develop a sense of belonging, of being a part sort of something that stretches beyond the present into the past. This idea of  an “intergenerational self” fills a deep emotional need and contributes to resilience in both kids and adults, (Duke and Fivush). A play-of-the-day could be enjoying an activity and saying thank you for time together, a Thanksgiving no matter where you live.

H is for Humor: Fall and Halloween Jokes for Kids

A sense of humor in a child can be very different from an adult’s. Here are some fun fall and Halloween jokes for kids because H is for humor.halloween jokes for kids

Q. What did one leaf say to the other?
A. I’m falling for you.

Q. What did the tree say to the woodpecker?
A. Leaf me alone.

Q. How do you fix a broken pumpkin?
A. With a pumpkin patch.

Q. What is a ghost’s favorite dessert?
A. Ice Scream.

Q. Where do baby ghosts go during the day?
A. Dayscare.

Q. What do witches put on their bagels?
A. Scream cheese.

A sense of humor is something that kids develop. It requires quite a complicated set of thinking skills such as being able to recognize intention, understanding that a result or action is unexpected or unusual, and reacting with an appropriate emotional response. With the challenge of coordinating and linking all these skills and more, it’s no wonder that children’s sense of humor has a few speed bumps, like mixing up jokes and punch lines.

For humor to work, there is a social element too. We all need to have some idea of what other people think is funny. Children sometimes laugh just because others are, not because they understand the jokes. Imagination is part of humor too, as the mind creates mental pictures.

funny fall books for kidsApparently, the statistic that children laugh about 400 times a day is not accurate but even if that number is highly exaggerated, it wouldn’t be as low as the average for adults, only 17.5. Whatever the numbers, kids love to laugh. Jokes and silly antics will tickle their funny bones, and books and stories too. A wonderful story for this time of year is “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves” by Lucille Calandro.

For a play-of-the-day, share some fall and Halloween jokes and riddles. What are some favorites at your house?

October Alphabet: E is for Emotional and Social Skills

The early years are especially sensitive for learning emotional and social skills and this time of year highlights many of them.

ghost-face-pdpOctober is a unique month in the calendar and in the life of a child. It is the only time  where so many people are all enjoying being scared. With scary faces, costumes, and noises, it’s a great opportunity to talk about emotions, in particular being afraid. Some common fears for kids are the dark, loud noises, being alone, and monsters. You can ask your child what is scary about Halloween and talk about it.

It’s much easier to cope with being afraid of monsters when it’s a friend wearing a monster costume. Check out some costumes in the stores so your child can see it’s just clothes with some scary effects. Look in the mirror with your child and together make some really scary faces. There are other emotions too, like being excited. Kids only have to think about all the treats to make very happy expressions.

Halloween also has a number of social skills. First of all, is the skill of waiting. Despite stores selling many items already, kids still have to wait. One way to help them do this is to get a calendar and mark off the sleeps.

halloween social emotional skillsAnother social skill is how to be friendly. On Halloween night, kids need to know what to do and how to use the words Trick or Treat and thank you. It helps to have a parent standing right close but still takes confidence to go up to a door. Back at home, there’s more waiting and possibly, some sharing too as parents check over and sort the treats. It’s hard not to eat the goodies all at once.

Halloween has so many opportunities for practicing basic social interactions and for exploring feelings. How about naming some like happy or scared, patient or excited, and asking your child to make the faces and show how it feels?

Colors of Childhood: Early Social Skills for Kids

Not only can colors be fun for math, science, and art but also for learning about relationships. Colors can also help with early social skills for kids. All humans share some common characteristics and each of us has some unique ones. Learning about personal identity will be something that begins in childhood and continues our … Continue reading Colors of Childhood: Early Social Skills for Kids

Off to School Toolbox: Kids and Routine

At first it wouldn’t seem so, but kids and routine are a good combination for learning. Having a routine lessens unpredictability and increases confidence. Particularly for going off to daycare, preschool, or kindergarten, a familiar routine can be a sort of invisible security blanket and another super tool in a child’s toolbox. Just like we … Continue reading Off to School Toolbox: Kids and Routine

Off to School Toolbox: Helping Kids Make Choices

Another way to support children as they are becoming more independent is by helping kids make choices. Decision-making strategies are great school tools. At first glance, this may not seem to be important but every choice we make influences our lives in ways both big and small. Choosing cereal or toast for breakfast may not … Continue reading Off to School Toolbox: Helping Kids Make Choices

Off to School Toolbox: Helping Children Make Friends

For children, life at daycare, preschool, or kindergarten, is strongly influenced by friends so helping children make friends is highly beneficial. Like so many other qualities we think are part of personality, or that kids will do naturally, making friends is a number of different skills that kids can develop. What makes popular kids popular? … Continue reading Off to School Toolbox: Helping Children Make Friends

Off to School Toolbox: Kids and Asking Questions

When it comes to kids and asking questions, parents, caregivers, and teachers are not surprised to know kids ask about 300 of them a day! Challenging as this can be for the adults, it’s tremendously important for kids. In the words of writer Thomas Berger, “The art and science of asking questions is the source … Continue reading Off to School Toolbox: Kids and Asking Questions

School Toolbox: Emotional Development in Young Children

Increasingly, we are recognizing the role of social and emotional development in young children as important for the adventure of school–and life. The title of the article, “Readiness: Not A State of Knowledge, but A State of Mind,” by Dr. Dan Gartrell, emphasizes this new perspective. He writes: People used to think children were ready … Continue reading School Toolbox: Emotional Development in Young Children