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Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 16 December 2013
When does a child develop social skills? Do rules help or inhibit appropriate behaviour in a social environment? Does any of this really matter?

A recent study reveals that over ten per cent of four and five year olds lack social skills to start school. They are rarely able to follow rules, show self-control or play with other children.

Hmmm, no real revelation I’d suggest and, possibly a loud reminder to parents who endeavour to fast-track their offspring at the expense of enjoying a childhood.

I guess the divide is whether your perspective is that a happy, carefree childhood is a luxury or simply preparation for life. Maybe life is not meant to be easy, as espoused by pessimists or prison guards, but does it have to start off with such a reality hit as high expectations?

Australian teachers who contributed to the Early Development Index observed their students as hyperactive, disobedient, anxious, threw tantrums and got into fights, blaming “genuine skills weakness” that got them into trouble in class.

I would expect a four year old to have a meltdown now and then.

It is how we handle these moments that matters. It is not a contradiction to raise happy children in a safe and enjoyable environment whilst teaching customary manners, such as to pay attention, wait their turn, and listen. Acceptable behaviour does not cancel out fun. By instilling good “self-regulation” skills early, and as a part of everyday learning, it won’t feel as traumatic when expected in public and or other social settings.

Some tips:
  • Set up a “calm space” at home
  • If anxious or angry encourage your child to walk away from aggressive situations
  • Teach breathing techniques to help settle heightened behaviour
  • Wait until calmness is restored before discussing the problem
  • Help to identify the first signs of anger, stress, nervousness, frustration
  • Always ensure you convey love to reassure and support their development.

Call me old fashioned, but a loving and firm approach is what works. It may not be rocket science but it does take time, patience, INEXHAUSATIBLE energy and consistency to get it right. It won’t supress creativity and individualism.

It won’t compromise leadership aspirations and academic potential. What it will do is help a child understand how to communicate and understand their world a little better…actually, I could do with a little retraining myself.

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