It’s Mine: Promoting Peer Interactions with Infants and Toddlers By Masha Levin Infant/Toddler Specialist Objectives: Participants will learn strategies for promoting interactions between infants and toddlers. Participants will also learn how to guide children in their play with peers and how to encourage problem solving and conflict resolution skills with infants and toddlers. SMALL GROUP ACTIVITY In your small groups, come up with 3 strategies to support positive peer interactions. What are some strategies that you use to support positive infant/toddler peer interactions? Be prepared to share with whole group. Why focus on infant/toddler peer interactions? Social-emotional development is the foundation for learning and predicts future social and academic success. Ethan Laughing Wittmer, 2008; Focusing on Peers Why focus on infant/toddler peer interactions? Children build each other’s competence and understanding of culture. Bigstockphoto.com Wittmer, 2008; Focusing on Peers Why focus on infant/toddler peer interactions? Conflict and the need for proactive strategies. Petitalma.com Wittmer, 2008; Focusing on Peers Why focus on infant/toddler peer interactions? When children are challenged, they need relationship support. Wittmer, 2008; Focusing on Peers The Adult Interactions That Count for Peer Relationships Be sensitive to temperament. Listen to babies. Be affectionate. Use positive affect and affect mirroring. Comfort children in distress. Be emotionally available. Be empathic—use nurturing care. Use gentle touch, hold, and enfold. Wittmer, 2008; Focusing on Peers The Adult Interactions That Count for Peer Relationships Engage in eye contact and face-to-face responsive interactions. Engage in reciprocal interactions. Be responsive—read cues. Be sensitive Promote a sense of mastery. Encourage self-regulation. Support families. Set up a nurturing environment. Wittmer, 2008; Focusing on Peers Setting Up the Environment for Developing Play & Friendship Skills Self-Reflection… Is there enough physical space for children and adults to engage in social interactions? Is there enough space for 2 or more children to enjoy side by side activity and for teachers to be close for supervision? Is there time in the daily schedule for opportunities to develop play skills each day? Do you have equipment that would encourage 2 children to interact? Do you have enough materials for 2 or more children to use at same time? Center for Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, Infant/Toddler Module II Progression of the Development of Friendship Skills 1. Positive interactions with adults 2. Showing awareness of other children 3. Playing briefly with other children 5. Practicing turn taking and sharing 4. Wanting what Kidscomplishment.com others have Babyexpert.com Center for Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, Infant/Toddler Module II Promoting the Development of Friendship Skills Encourage toddlers to help each other and do routines together Provide positive verbal support for play between children Read books about friends, playing together, helping each other, etc. Practice turn-taking and sharing Center for Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, Infant/Toddler Module II Small Group Activity: Brainstorm… When do conflicts occur? What needs are children expressing? GardenCityPatch.com When I Think of Infant/Toddler Conflict, These are the Words that Come to Mind... Crying Screaming Biting Hitting Pushing Scratching Body movement Incident reports Unhappy parents Yumkid.com Strategies for Infant/Toddler Conflict Resolution Let’s Watch! Lockhart, Shannon; High/Scope Early Childhood Specialist So You’ve Used the Conflict Resolution Strategies, But… You still have children who need support with self- regulation: A skill that allows children to translate what they experience into information they can use to regulate thoughts, emotions, and behaviors (Blair & Diamond 2008). An infant/toddler teacher would partner with the child and family to help them develop self-regulation skills. Redirection, acknowledging feelings, giving positive feedback and providing developmentally appropriate experiences are strategies that will help the child develop emotional self-regulation. So You’ve Used the Conflict Resolution Strategies, But… You still have children who need support with stress: • Stress—when a person shows, by difficulties in personal relationships and worrisome bodily responses, that he or she is having a struggle and cannot cope with felt or perceived difficulties (Honig 1986). • Perceptive awareness and monitoring of infant and toddler behaviors is your first line of defense against emotional troubles (Honig 2010). • Let’s review some behavior and body signals of stress… So You’ve Used the Conflict Resolution Strategies, But… You still have children who need support with withdrawal behaviors: A child exhibiting withdrawal behavior may appear to have given up attempting to get his needs met and to have moved away from interaction with others. Nevertheless the infant or toddler is expressing his experience, and it may appear to be a preference. This type of challenging behavior is often overlooked in a busy childcare setting. Children Who are Experiencing Challenges with… Scenario #1 Demetrio, a 26 month old toddler, angrily throws the toy on the ground. Earlier, he had tried to climb a book shelf and had a huge tantrum when a teacher tried to redirect him to the safe climbing area. Later, other toddlers moved quickly out of his way when he picked up the hammer to the xylophone and started tapping his way through the room. Children Who are Experiencing Challenges with… Scenario #2 Ariel, a 9-month-old girl, has just been left at the center by her mother, who was late for work. Although she did stay with her daughter for a few minutes before handing her over to the teacher, she started screaming when she hastily said good bye and hurried out the door. She is now sitting on the floor and alternately screaming and sobbing. Children Who are Experiencing Challenges with… Scenario #3 Roberto is a 13 month toddler. When he becomes very upset, Roberto’s teacher tries to cuddle and soothe him, but he pushes her away, arches his back, and looks away from the caregiver. Knowing about is different from knowing how to. Knowing about means learning theory. Knowing how to puts theory into action… We know that even people with considerable understanding of infants and toddlers have trouble acting on that understanding unless they have learned to apply theory. Knowledge does not necessarily build skill. –Janet Gonzalez-Mena Resources NAEYC • National Association for Education of Young Children • www.naeyc.org ZERO TO THREE • National Center for Infants,Toddlers, and Families • www.zerotothree.org CSEFEL • Center for Social and Emotional Foundations of Early Learning • www.csefel.vanderbilt.edu Resources PITC TACSEI CSSP • Program for Infant Toddler Care • www.pitc.org • Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention • www.challengingbehavior.org • Center for the Study of Social Policy: Changing Practice in Programs • www.cssp.org/reform/strengtheningfamilies/resources/changingprogrammatic-practice Thank you! Do you have any questions? Please fill out your Evaluation and pick up your Certificate of Attendance.