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Toddlers and Preschoolers: Preventing Childhood Obesity While Building Social Skills

Lil tykes and Monique graduation 1-11-11 178

Preventing childhood obesity and ensuring development of the four cornerstones of child development is what I do on daily basis. As an Early Educator and Dance, Movement and Play Consultant and Expert, I work with children  from infancy to school age. Along with making sure that they are developing physically, I also have the honor and privilege of making sure that they receive a foundation in basic life skills. Social skills and empathy are two very important skills that all children need that will help them be successful in school and  later on in life .

IT’S NEVER TO EARLY TO TEACH SOCIALIZATION SKILLS

When a parent or caregiver coos and talks to a child they are providing the foundation for their children to learn how to interact and be with others. When they look into a child’s eyes, they are not only acknowledging them and communicating to them that they are important and matter. They are helping them learn to experience the joys of connecting with another human being.

Today at one of my schools, I had another toddler push one of his class mates. “Not nice. Soft please. Gentle”. Because of their age and development level simple words work best. The tone of my voice is also a powerful tool as well as the use of my eyes. I maintain eye contact and speak in a matter of fact tone. And since children learn with all of themselves, I put my hand on his shoulder and said the word “Soft”.

Off he went and we all continued our music and movement class. We did a lot of running which boys love, as well as jumping. These two activities are great at getting children’s heart rate up and exercising their large muscles and cardiovascular system. Introducing them to structured movement early teaches them how to be in a class or group setting and also ensures that they are meeting developmental milestones.

LEARNING EMPATHY AND THINKING SKILLS

In another class, this time with the Pre-K class two students were fighting over a toy truck. One student was screaming and crying and the other was just watching her. I kneeled down with the both of them and began asking questions. What happened? ” She has my truck one student cried.” Oh I said and turned to the other student and asked, ” Was she playing with it first?” She nodded her head yes. I then asked them both what do you think you should do? I then said that our friend K looks upset and asked the other student did she see that and she said yes. I then asked them both again what do you think you should do? Finally I asked do you think the both of you can sure. They both nodded their heads.

In the end we did resolve the situation. It was decided that one would play on the truck for a while and then let the other play awhile. The other student went and played with other things in the playground while the other happily rode the truck.

QUESTIONS A POWERFUL TOOL

As an Early Educator one of the many things we want to do is empower children to learn to think for themselves, questions do that beautifully. Open ended questions help children to practice thinking for themselves. It opens the door up for children to explore themselves and others as well as different ways to resolve a situation.

Children are fast learners and this is a skill that helps tremendously in the classroom. It keeps things neutral and encourages children to be compassionate, calm and objective. It opens up possibilities and minimizes defensiveness. It’s also a great tool for adults also.

Dance, Music and Movement classes are an excellent opportunity for children to move their bodies in healthy ways to prevent obesity and learn how to interact and get along with others.

Please feel free to share this information with your friends, colleagues and family and on social media. I’d also love to hear about your experiences and what has worked for you. Please share your comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

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