By SARAH ABRAHAM-OWOSENI
Once upon a time, it was thought that cognitive and/academic skills were the only thing children needed to thrive. When a child is doing well academically, people often saw the child as intelligent/smart.
But most times, being book smart is not enough. Children and adults require skills that will help them thrive; I call these skills life skills.
They help individuals thrive in their personal lives in relating to others and in making the world a better place for everyone. Life Skills is one crucial concept that has come to stay due to its resultant effect in the lives of young people.
UNICEF captures it this way, “Life skills education has come to be seen as important for young people to negotiate and mediate challenges and risks and enable productive participation in society.”
Some examples include:
- Personal Hygiene
- Personal Development
- Critical Thinking
- Creative Thinking
- Making Connections
- Problem Solving
- Sex Education
- Financial Literacy
Beyond raising book smart children, parents need to help their children acquire these life skills to thrive in life. However, these skills may seem complicated for toddlers and preschoolers to learn life skills. Thankfully, there is a foundation to start with: Toddlers and preschoolers go through social and emotional development, and we can help them to start learning life skills through this means.
Let me bring this to context, here are some examples of things to do to help toddlers and preschoolers grow in emotional and social development:
- Sharing toys,
- Taking turns,
- Following routines,
- Asking for help,
- Listening and paying attention,
- Having a positive self-image
- Expressing feelings with words
- Being aware of the feelings of others
- Displaying self-control
- Cooperating with others
I remember a day I was with a group of toddlers and preschoolers, a particular toddler was crying because he needed attention. And guess what happened? It was amazing to watch how a preschooler kept telling him ‘sorry.’ She did not only say sorry and moved on, but she also called the attention of the teacher to the crying toddler, and she stayed through until he stopped crying.
Guess what? That is the beginning of empathy. She was simply aware of another child’s feelings.
If little efforts like this can help toddlers and pre-schoolers to begin to learn life skills gradually, then more energy can be put into this.
So, as a parent or teacher, how can you foster the social and emotional skills of children?
- Acknowledge your feelings and your child’s feelings
For example, if a child is unhappy because a toy is taken away, you can name the feeling by asking, “Do you feel sad because your toy was taken away?”
- Provide a stable and reliable environment.
Children should grow up in a safe atmosphere, especially with the involvement of their parents and other siblings.
- Model kindness
The reason is this; most things are caught by children rather than being taught.
- Acknowledge your child’s strengths and personality and lastly,
- Give your children lots of hugs every day.
This is amazing. Was this helpful? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comment section. Feel free to share this post with other parents. Thank you so much
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Sarah Abraham-Owoseni is an Early Childhood Educator and Parenting Coach. She helps parents raise children with core skills and godly values to form a strong foundation for life. She is the Children Development Director at Young Breeds Children and Youth Development Centre which houses Young Breeds Development Initiative and Young Breeds Schools where she serves as the co-founder and Centre Director