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Supportive Interactions

Dear Debi,
I take care of my 3-year-old grandson and Iím interested in learning how I can communicate better with him. Lately, when I ask him what he is working on, all I get is a ďyesĒ or ďno.Ē How can I learn to communicate with him and help him express himself?
Marta , Culver City, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Have one-on-one time every day
  • Make interactions positive
  • See things from the childís perspective
Expert Advice
Susan Baxter
Susan Baxter
Early childhood development specialist
Supportive interactions are ways in which you communicate with kids so that you nurture their learning and development. Child Care providers can have supportive interactions with kids by communicating with them in a positive manner so that they develop autonomy and good self-esteem. By creating moments for you and your kids to interact, you are creating opportunities for them to be successful so that they can work through situations and learn from them.

One-on-one time is essential to having supportive interactions. You should make time for each child so that you can spend quality time talking and re-affirming them. This fosters attachment and helps kids learn social skills as well.

Children are very egocentric during this development period. When you listen to them, ask them about their feelings and help them express their emotions. They learn that you respect them, care about them and that youíre vested in their learning. This also models for them how to interact in a caring and positive manner with others, which is essential to developing positive social skills.

Start first thing in the morning by having a real check-in. Greet them enthusiastically. Make that transition a positive one. When they leave your care in the afternoon, have a really solid goodbye ritual in place so the child has a sense of transition and support.

These are simple, routine things that any child care provider can do to incorporate supportive interactions. Also, if a child is having trouble with a situation, provide support to him or her, but donít solve the problem. This will help children learn appropriate choices and understand how to work though situations.

Kids naturally crave your attention so they will do things to attract you. If you only pay attention to children when they do something negative, it reinforces the idea that negative behavior will reward them. This reinforces negative communication and social skills that can affect their self-worth and self conscience. Itís important to have positive interaction with your kids. If something wonderful happens, notice it, address it and praise it.

Itís important to remember that kids are unique. You donít have to do the same thing for each child, but remember to be sincere and create unique interactions with each child.

Finally, try to look at things from a childís perspective. When you do so, you can better meet that childís needs because you can see what they are trying to say or do, or how they may be feeling in a situation. This also helps with communication, because they are using skills that make sense to them and modeling how to use these skills.
Child Care provider Comments
Child care provider for 4 years
Open-ended questions are great because there are no right answers and it requires more explanation than a ďyesĒ or a ďno.Ē Youíre giving the child the opportunity to let you know whatís going on in their minds instead of the child care provider trying to guess and getting it wrong. It develops their imaginations and helps in their development.
Alma Martinez
Alma Martinez
Child care provider for 10 years
I spend one-on-one time with each child, but I do it while the other kids are still there. I really think this helps build their self-respect as well as their respect of others. They see that I am making a special effort to be with them while others are there. I also think that when the other children see that Iím talking to one child, they learn to be respectful and not interrupt or try to grab my attention. By spending time individually with them, Iím able to communicate more closely and model how to have those kinds of interactions with all of them.
Diane Ferguson
Diane Ferguson
Child care provider for 3 years
Itís important to communicate with your kids so that they bond with you. Itís also important for their families to feel that you are doing everything in the best interest of the child, so when you spend the time with the kids, you are building their self esteem and their sense of trust.

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Topic: Social & Emotional Development
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