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Language that promotes social competency with toddlers

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Started by Bonnie Te Ara Henare 27 Mar 2012 8:01pm () Replies (5)

Hi Tara,

Thank you so much for the opportuntity to participate in the online workshop tonight.

I recently came across some writings that talk about the 'Language of Social Competency' referring to the need for educarers to look at the way we communicate with infants and toddlers; this had me reflect upon "what does look like or sound like in practice?"

Do you have any information, ideas or strategies that I can draw from to promote social skills and competency with this age group?


  • Tara Fagan (View all users posts) 28 Mar 2012 10:29am ()

    Great question Bonnie, thanks for posting it Smile

    There are a couple of resources available that might be useful:

    Positive Verbal Environments

    Teaching strategies and language from the Incredible Years Programme

    Anita Homewood has an excellent video on the Infants and Toddlers section of this site which would be worth viewing as well.  

    I will have a look and see what other articles I can find and post them here.  If anyone has resources that they can share, or know of, please upload or let us know too.

    It will be great to see what ideas people share about strategies and ideas for promoting social skills and competency for infants and toddlers.  

  • Bonnie Te Ara Henare (View all users posts) 28 Mar 2012 6:40pm ()

    Thank you Tara,

    Some useful resources on facilitating social/emotional learning and a beautiful example of creating learning environments that foster respect and promoting social competence with infants and toddlers...I love this site!

  • Justine Mason (View all users posts) 30 Mar 2012 2:32pm ()

    Hey there,

    Great resources here Tara. I really recommend the link to the teaching strategies and language from the Incredible Years Programme. There is a page in there about teachers as emotional coaches.

    Providing descriptive commentaries to all children can be a meaningful and effective way to not only acknowledge and identify children's feelings and emotions but it also exposes them to the language of feeling and emotions.

    As toddlers language increases they will have words to describe their emotions and feelings. It’s never too early to begin using this language with children.

    Another strategy to consider is modeling your own feeling and emotion language in your interactions with children.

     If anyone uses any of these strategies we would love you to share your ideas.........

  • Glenda Albon (View all users posts) 04 Apr 2012 1:40pm ()

    Hi there Bonnie, Justine and Tara,

    This topic is one that I have reflected on many times through my interactions and experiences with infants, toddlers and young children. I absolutely agree that it is the role of the adults (Parent/teachers/grandparents ...) to support children to learn to recognise the physical feelings that 'flow' through our body/ brain at times when emotions are triggered. Sometimes those physical 'feelings can be overpowering and as adults we can talk about these feelings and model our own responses.

    On one significant occasion I was told by a parent how her son (20 months) had managed to recognise his emotional feeling, label it and use that knowledge to calm himself down. The story goes;

    Mum and son were at an historic park where there were steam trains and traction engines. Mum was walking along with her son when a Train whistle blew LOUDLY close to them. Mum jumped, as did her son. He held on tightly to her and began crying. He then suddenly stopped crying, looked at her and said; "Fright Mummy. Loud noise". He calmed his emotions very quickly. Mum said it helped her relax too.

    Mum was so delighted to report this story back to us in the centre.

    This young boy used to cry loudly and for quite some time when unexpected things happened around him. As a teaching team we had supported him and his family to name and identfy their own feelings in various situations and to model appropriate responses, as well as to support him to find a name for his own feelings.


    Some of my recent studies have been looking at Infant and Toddler Mental Health. Much of what underlies the development of our mental health is modelled to us in those early months of our lives. Babies are 'pre-wired' to take cues from their parents and other close carers and family members, through their respectful, reciprocal and resposive interactions.

    The connections and brain activity that are consequently formed in the brain become automatic responses and form the foundation for the baby's future emotinal wellbeing.

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