Archive for June, 2011

30 Jun 2011

Building Relationships from a Distance

No Comments ELECT, Infants, Social
Infants (0-24 months)

1.4 Maintaining Connection across Space

  • Uses gestures, vocalizations and her emerging expressice language to keep connected to an adult across space
Make eye contact when you are across the room.

Mobile, older infants are now able to communicate across space (distal communication).

Making eye contact from across the room can help to maintain your connection to an infant who is exploring.

It’s all about relationships.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; caregiving in the early years is all about relationships. The most important thing that we do day in and day out is not “teaching” new skills but forming trusting, supportive, respectful relationships with the infants and young children in our care. That being said, when it comes to group care, this can be a challenge because we are often very busy and rarely have the opportunities which allow us to have fully engaged one on one interactions with the children. So we do our best to have as many of those moments as we can and we take full advantage of caregiving routines which allow us this time. That being said, when it comes to forming relationships in a busy infant, the ability to keep connected across space is a significant one.

As we go about our classroom routines, we need to be conscious of what is happening with the children around us. By being attentive to children’s explorations, even from a distant, we allow them the opportunity to engage us in what they are doing, even when we are doing other things. Across the room, an infant may be exploring with a toy, and look over, attempting to make eye contact, he or she may gesture or say the name of the toy, trying to call our attention to what they are doing. Although we may be unable to join them in their exploration, by acknowledging their communication and responding to them, we are still able to support their exploration and strengthen the relationship. An infant or young child may call out for us with a need, such as hunger or physical affection. We might not be able to meet this need immediately if we are attending to another child, but now we are able to respond by letting the child know that we have heard them and will be there to support them when we are finished with the task at hand. We’re never too busy or too far away to respond to an infant or young child in a respectful, supportive way.

10 Jun 2011

The Power of No

No Comments Socio-Emotional Development, Toddlers

I’m working with a little one right now who is just turning two years old. Like many other children his age he is discovering the power of “no”. Being told “no” all the time can obviously become frustrating for his caregivers. However, what I’m now starting to wonder is how frustrating it is for him.

He’s going through a transition phase developmentally in which he is learning that he is his own person and can make his own choices. How scary and confusing that must be for him. I haveĀ  noticed that although he exercises his ability to say “no” regularly he doesn’t always seem pleased or certain about it. Thinking back to other toddlers that I’ve worked with, I’ve noticed a similar trend. Although they will often say “no”, sometimes they indicate through their body language, facial expressions and even their tone, that they don’t neccessarily mean “no” and sometimes they say it even when they mean “yes”. I remember this used to be a regular occurence at snack time, toddlers practicing saying “no” and then showing displeasure at not receiving more snack.

This observation of this particular child’s seeming conflict with his use of the word “no” reminded me of how mindful we need to be in our observations and responses to toddlers and young children. It can be easy to see “no” as a frustrating response or even defiant behaviour when it shouldn’t be. We need to support toddlers as they develop their independence and support their need to begin to make decisions. We can do this by establishing an environment that is safe for their exploration, one which will limit the amount that we need to tell them “no”. We can also do this by providing them with simple closed choices, such as “would you like toast or cereal?” Allowing them to make small choices, and therefore providing them with manageable amounts of control will help them to feel safe and secure as well as to exert their growing independence.

Also, next time you’re with a toddler, take a moment to imagine how it would feel to discover you suddenly have power and control over things you didn’t before. What a great responsibility that would be and how overwhelming that would feel. In this stage of development, which Erikson referred to as “autonomy vs shame and doubt”, toddlers are experiencing the push and pull of wanting to explore and to be independent while at the same time wanting to feel safe and secure with their caregivers. Therefore we need to be mindful of how we respond in these situations so that we can support their explorations appropriately.

I hope that next time you hear “no” you’ll take a deep breath and try to keep these things in mind before you respond.