Encouraging Social and Emotional Development in Babies and Toddlers

April 19th, 2016 by

social & emotional development Young children come to know and understand the world through relationships, whether with parents, caregivers, or other children. Encouraging toddlers’ social and emotional development is thus one of the most crucial tasks for new parents. Understandably, finding a caregiver who will be able to enrich a child’s social and emotional wellness is of utmost importance.

How can a nanny help develop social-emotional wellness in her charges?

There are a number of methods a qualified nanny will use to help develop a child’s social and emotional wellness. Many of these center on what we think of as basic childcare necessities, such as providing structure and daily routines to create a secure home environment, being nurturing and affectionate to promote trust, and encouraging the child to follow his or her interests. This is because the first step toward encouraging healthy socialization is teaching the child that their home environment is an emotionally safe space.

Research has shown that children who feel safe in their most important relationships—with parents and caregivers—will be much quicker to adapt to new situations, social or otherwise. If they do feel anxious, they will recover faster.

Hiring a nanny is a great way to develop emotional wellness, particularly for anxious, introverted, or insecure children. For these children, the daycare environment can be overstimulating, and the inconsistent attention they get from teachers and peers can be fraught with tension. In comparison, a nanny will provide the children in her care with constant, one-on-one attention, and the activities they do will be specifically designed to encourage the children’s interests and abilities.

Additionally, a nanny will be able to provide a wide variety of social experiences for your children. Because their work is not confined to a specific location, such as a daycare, nannies can go out into the world with children and expose them to a greater number of social interactions. For example, many nannies will bring their charges to parks and playgrounds and enroll them in playgroups and classes, among other fun social activities.

What kinds of methods does a nanny use to promote social-emotional wellness?

  • Providing safety and security while supporting independent exploration. Because nannies form such special bonds with their charges, a nanny is in a perfect position to help kids begin to explore the world around them. Oftentimes, when young children find themselves exposed to new environments and situations, they will feel anxious or afraid. Having a trusted nanny nearby helps children develop the confidence to enter new situations independently.
  • Teaching children to express feelings in age-appropriate ways. Part of emotional development is learning the skills to manage and express both positive and negative emotions. Nannies will use language that identifies, labels, and respects a young child’s feelings in order to teach the child to identify and label their own feelings. Remember, the way language works is subtle and important—have you noticed how more people feel “hangry” now that there’s a word to describe it? When something has a name, it exists and therefore can be managed, interacted with, and eventually resolved.
  • Encouraging respect and appreciation for diversity. Children are born without the social filter that we as adults have internalized. This means they may see other children who have disabilities or are different from them in some way, and they may comment on it. This tends to make adults embarrassed and uncomfortable. However, these things happen, and they provide a perfect teaching opportunity about empathy and respect. The more opportunities for socialization that are provided—for instance, being out in a variety of locations and playspaces with a nanny, rather than in the same group of children day-in and day-out in the daycare—the more likely a child will encounter differences early on.
  • Offering diverse opportunities to learn cooperative play. This can be in any number of settings: in the home with siblings, outside with the nanny, or as part of a class or playgroup with other children. Cooperative play is the cornerstone of developing social skills in children; by learning to share and take turns, kids internalize the basic social etiquette that allows society to function. The nanny can observe and step in when necessary; learning to cooperate is a process, and it may take time.

How can I find a nanny near me who will promote social-emotional development in my child?

Agencies such as the Nanny Authority work with a variety of candidates who have backgrounds in child development in child development and child psychology, in addition to several years of childcare experience. Partnering with an agency can expose you to many highly qualified nannies who you might not have met otherwise. Our placement counselors can also help you to clarify your needs and expectations to guarantee you find the perfect fit.

Are you ready to begin your nanny search? Contact us today!