Welcome to the Greater Manchester (GM) 10 tips for Thriving.
Here are some simple things that we can all do to support children’s social emotional development and wellbeing and give our children the best start in life.
What do we mean by 'social emotional development'?
It’s how children start to understand who they are, what they are feeling and what to expect when interacting with others.
It allows young children to:
- Form and keep positive relationships with important people
- Safely experience, express and manage their feelings.
- Feel confident to explore the world and try new things.
What does wellbeing mean?
Wellbeing is holistic in nature and is used as a broad term to describe children’s:
- Levels of happiness and confidence
- Ability to problem solve, make choices, empathise with others and be emotionally resilient
- Social competence and pro-social behaviour towards others.
During pregnancy, your baby’s brain is growing very quickly. You can help their brain grow by taking time out to relax and talk to them, stroke your bump and play them your favourite music.
Encourage other close family members to do the same.
Taking care of your own mental health means that you’re in a better place to recognise and respond to your child's needs.
There will be times when you’re feeling stressed, anxious or upset – this is completely normal. Take time out to do simple things that help you relax and manage stress, as well as asking family and friends for help when needed.
Remember that no parent is perfect. Accept that you may not feel calm and relaxed 100% of the time.
Watch your baby/child carefully and tune into what they’re trying to tell you.
Consistently responding when your baby/child expresses that they need something helps them to build trust in you.
Young children’s brains are still developing so they can’t yet manage big feelings by themselves.
When you see your child struggling to manage their feelings, offer support and help them get back to feeling calm again.
Seeing your child displaying strong emotions can trigger strong feelings in yourself.
Young children thrive on routines. They feel safe when they can predict what will be happening throughout the day.
Stability helps children feel calm which in turn supports their learning and development.
Children’s self-esteem and confidence grows in response to important people in their life making them feel special.
Children love hearing grownups praise their efforts and successes.
Give your child lots of opportunities to safely interact with different adults and children whilst with you. This grows their confidence and helps them to learn important social skills.
Feeling comfortable around others from a young age can help your child manage being away from you as they get older, for example when they go to a childminder or start nursery.
Young children need adults to teach them words that they can use to describe how they are feeling, such as ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘excited’ and ‘cross’.
When you see your child feeling upset, worried or angry, tell them that this is okay. Help them find a positive way of dealing with the feeling. Make sure you model this when you are feeling stressed too!
It’s important that children learn that all feelings are okay, but not all behaviours.
Young children are still learning about the world and what is expected of them. They need adults to be warm and loving but also to set expectations for how to behave.
Children respond best when adults remain calm and explain what they would like to see them doing instead.
Children spend lots of time watching people who are important to them. Being a good role model for your child will help them to learn important social skills such as turn taking and sharing.
Young children love it when you are engrossed in play with them. Imaginative role play is how children learn how to ‘put themselves in someone else’s shoes’, a crucial social and emotional skill.
Play doesn’t have to involve expensive toys, you are your child’s favourite toy!
Giving your child your undivided attention in play can be tricky when you have lots of other tasks to do – aim for little and often, for example a few minutes a few times throughout the day.
GM has developed a suite of 10 Top Tips Resources to support early child development from pregnancy to age 5. The tips can be used everyone including parents, grandparents, frontline professionals and the wider workforce to help with supporting speech and language, emotional wellbeing and movement.
Check out our Top Ten Tips for Talking (internal webpage).