Photo by Tatiana Syrikova

Parent’s interactions with their children, even at their early stages of growth and development, are essential because it makes a significant difference as they grow older.

Every choice made during a child’s early development can affect the rest of their life. If every parent, caretaker, or educator raised a child with this statement in mind, children would be given the best chance to develop to their fullest potential. Early childhood development has many facets to it. Still, the three main developmental areas are physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional in a safe and nurturing environment. Each developmental stage is as important as the next. And becoming aware of how one works can help parents better understand how to raise a child most effectively. 

During the developmental stage of preoperational thought, children begin to engage in symbolic play and learn to manipulate symbols.  When a child engages in and understands symbolic play they have the ability to imagine something even if it is not physically there. These thoughts and skills can encourage a child to use language to describe their play. Another great example is using art to convey this growth. When a child draws, they are using their memories, mental representations of people, and things around them to put them down on paper.  Hearing people talk around them is primarily made possible to describe their surroundings. Scientists believe children can build on cognitive structures by hearing social speech around them. In early childhood, a child’s private speech or self-talk will help them practice using the newly acquired language and learn to internalize dialog for mental activities. Parent’s interactions are one of the critical factors that help children develop their cognitive functions even at an early age. Aside from these, there are many ways in which interactions can be imbedded into a child’s daily schedule. Here are the following:

  • Playing. Playing with your child is one way to help them develop social skills and self-control. Children’s minds are like little sponges. They soak up everything around them. Kids learn how people behave in social settings as they interact with their parents and others. They also know what’s acceptable by taking their cues from you. Research has linked parent-child pretend and physical play to developing specific skills, including creativity, working memory, gross motor skills, vision, cognitive flexibility, regulation of emotions, and peer group leadership skills.
  • Reading and Storytelling. Sharing stories, talking, and singing daily helps your child develop in many ways. You’re getting your kid familiar with words, sounds, print, language, and, eventually, the joy and value of books. Reading stories stimulates your child’s imagination. It helps your little one learn about the world. For example, reading books can help your child learn about and feel respect for other cultures. Reading also develops your child’s social skills and skills for managing emotions. Similarly, young children enjoy books with good rhyme, rhythm, and repetition.  These qualities can help children learn. Books that are the correct length for your child can keep them engaged. Books you can read in 4-5 minutes are usually a good length for toddlers.
  • Talking with your babies. Talking with your infant or baby can help enhance their communication and language development. The more you speak with your baby or child, the better. This is because parents who speak to their young children use different words and sounds. Also, when talking to their toddlers, parents must treat them like mature individuals. This way, toddlers will recognize the pleasing sounds of words and help them speak at the earlier stage of their growth and development.

Interactive books are available at bookstores and online, like Talk, Play, and Read with Me Mommy by Jo Ann Gramlich. This book provides you and your child with many stimulating activities and games that are developmentally appropriate and designed to help enhance your child’s speech and language skills. There are interactive activities for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. These games can be played when you and your child have a few extra minutes during daily routines, playtime, or story time. You can also use this book when you are on the move, so carry it wherever you go.

Finally, parents want what is best for their kids, and a strong parent-child relationship can help lead to better outcomes for children in the long run.

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