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1.10: Creating Environments to Enhance Social and Emotional Development

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    Learning Objectives

    After completing the reading and participating in the activities in this chapter you should be able to design an infant or toddler program with a) learning activities; b) schedule; and c) physical environment design using relationship-based practice to support social and emotional learning. NAEYC Standard 1c, 5a; MA Core Competency 5.A.2 @ Initial & 4.D.11 @ Initial )



    Infants & Toddlers and Their Emotions published on Feb 10, 2014 by Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.
    This video is an example of supporting infants and toddlers learning about their emotions. You will see the teacher use a book and physical movement strategies to help children recognize, label and manage emotions.

    Self-regulation is an essential skill for success in life. Various components or skills of self-regulation correlate with academic achievement. The self regulations skills of paying attention, controlling impulsive behavior, and staying on task are most important. One particular aspect of self-regulation, inhibitory control, is used in planning, problem solving, and goal directed activity. The skills listed are essential for executive functioning. Inhibitory control is predictive of all academic outcomes but was particularly associated with early ability in math.

    Executive Functioning

    The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.

    Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A parent’s guide to helping children with executive functioning. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House. Available at: LD OnLine website From: that supports the work of the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD)

    developmental trends in self-regulation. One is that “other” regulation develops BEFORE self-regulation. Other-regulation is being regulated by someone else. This is distinguished from self-regulation in which one regulates oneself.” (Bodrova and Leong 2007, 81) Other-regulation is the first step in self-regulation when the adult structures the task and then gradually lets the child take it over. We call this technique scaffolding.

    Supporting self-regulation in a developmentally appropriate manner

    1. Decide what to do, how to play, and with whom
    2. Organize and set it up.
    3. Play in a way that supports or fits with the theme or game.
    4. Sustain the play in accord with the intent or end the play early due to it not coming together as intended

    ow do you model problem solving? In what types of situations do the infants and toddlers see you exhibit self-control? Planning? Setting goals? How do you model dealing with frustration? What tips or techniques could you teach toddlers?

    Using preventative techniques to guide behavior

    Teaching ideas

    Massachusetts Early Learning Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers in the area of social-emotional development for the infants and toddlers are:

    • Relates to, trusts and becomes attached to consistent educators.
    • Notices and interacts with children of a similar age.
    • Acts as a social being by engaging with others and the world around them.
    • Experiences and expresses a range of emotions.
    • Begins and progresses in regulating own feelings and behavior
    • Develops a positive sense of self.

    American Academy of Pediatrics (2016) recommendations for infant and toddlers are:

    • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
    • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
    • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
    • AAP provides a Family Media Use Plan tool on their website.
    •  Appropriate spaces for specific activities. For example: an area that allows for easy cleanup for art, sand or water play, a quiet area for manipulative play, reading and literacy experiences. Active play such as gross motor should not be near the quiet area.
    •  Open and usable space for toddlers to move freely about during play.
    • Spaces both indoors and outdoors that provides for both active play such as climbing and quiet play.  Use of the outside for activities (art, science, math); physical activities, walks, connecting toddlers to the neighborhood.
    •  Spaces including group play areas, as well as semi-private spaces where toddlers can safely play away from the large group.
    • Pictures and items from the child’s home and family to maintain a connection to family and reinforce a sense of belonging.
    • Organize recyclables, paper and toddler-safe art media (waterproof, non-toxic tempera, washable markers, chunky crayons, playdough) that children can safely take out, use and put back.
    •  Encourage toddlers’ growing gender identity by allowing them to take on a variety of roles during imaginative play. Avoid gender-specific toys such as baby dolls only for girls or trucks only for boys, or primary colored toys for boys, pastels for girls, etc. These differences begin to socialize children into stereotypical gender roles and preferences, which could limit their understanding of social diversity.
    • Show diverse cultures in displays or pictures. Toddlers need to see themselves and their families reflected in the environment.
    • Develop a partnership with families so that care routines and family child rearing practices across home, school and cultural environments reinforce each other.

    How will you create an environment, schedule, and plan to teach these skills and behaviors?

    References and Resources to explore

    • Bodrova, E. and Leong, D, J. (2007). Tools of the Mind: The Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education. 2nd Ed. New Jersey: Pearson Education.
    • Bronson, M. B. (2000). Self-Regulation in Early Childhood: Nature and Nurture. New York: The Guilford Press.
    • Elliot, E., & Gonzalez-Mena, J. (2011). Babies’ Self-Regulation Taking a Broad Perspective. YC: Young Children, 66(1), 28-32. [Available on Blackboard or at the BSU library]
    • Gallagher, K.C. & Mayer, K. (2008). Enhancing development and learning through teacher-child relationships. Young Children, 63(6), 80-87. [Available on Blackboard or at the BSU library]
      Gonzalez-Mena, J. (2012). On the Way to Friendship: Growing Peer Relationships among Infants and Toddlers. Exchange, (205), 48-50. [Available on Blackboard or at the BSU library]
      Lally, J.R. (2009). The Science and Psychology of Infant-Toddler Care. Zero to Three, 47-53 Available on Blackboard
      Wittmer, D. S. (2008) Turning the lens to Infant and Toddler Peer Relationships. Zero to Three, 5-21 [Available on Blackboard or at the BSU library]

    Read and Participate

    This page titled 1.10: Creating Environments to Enhance Social and Emotional Development is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Susan Eliason via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.