Cincinnati Family Magazine

Your # 1 Hometown Family Resource

October 7, 2022

Four Ways to Support The Whole Child

Socialization begins day one. Your love and support will guide your child to a connected future.

There are many ways that moms and dads can support their kids’ academics at home, but also areas outside of academics. In other words, supporting your child as a whole.

Your Kids’ Whole Success

Research shows that success is measured in more than just academics or your Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Your Emotional Quotient (EQ) also plays a factor in your success. This research has led to the push to support the whole child versus just academics. In fact, the state of Ohio created a Whole Child Framework stating, “Unless the whole child is considered and supported, the conditions for learning are less than optimal.” The Depart- ment of Education also recognizes the importance of the whole child and created Social Emotional Learning Standards. These standards were built following the CASEL model on social emotional learning that includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

SOCIALIZATION BEGINS AT BIRTH

Socialization begins from day one! Join a moms group or set up play dates with parents in your neighborhood to help your child explore the world around them. Meghan King, board certified behavior analyst, recommends utilizing free programs in your own community.

“You can find these at your public library or local parks,” she continues. “Socialization from day one is much like early intervention, the earlier you introduce it the more the child will benefit from positive social interactions.”

Join free mom and parent groups on Facebook and search Cincinnati Family magazine’s award-winning calendar for tons of great opportunities to take your babe out and about the community!

• Supporting Interests: While out on play dates, in the community, or at home, keep an eye on what your child gravitates to. Do they like a particular character or activity? You can use their interests to introduce new topics while pairing a favorite. If your child loves to roll and flip, a parent and me gymnastics class may be enjoyable for both of you!

• Build and Maintain Healthy Relationships: Parents are the first teacher! Kids learn about building and maintaining healthy relationships first through their interactions with their parents. Parents can model building relationships through hugs, high-fives, and interacting together. Maintaining that healthy relationship can include putting down electronics and giving your child your undivided attention.

SOCIALIZATION AND YOUR TODDLER

Continue with play dates and/or enroll your kids into a daycare/preschool setting where they can play with other kids their same age. During play dates, sit down and play with the kids. You are  modeling for your child appropriate socialization skills that they can utilize as they grow older.

• Supporting Interests: As your child grows, continue to keep an eye on how their interests change. Are they now showing interest in different activities? Instead of Paw Patrol are they now showing interest in a different character? If so, visit your local library and pick up books with that character which can spark a love of reading. Are they starting to show interest in certain sports? Look at your local sports organization or a YMCA for kids’ programs that provide your kids with the opportunity to explore various activities.

• Building and Maintaining Healthy Relationships: Jen Russell, MA, LPC, ACTP, says it is crucial to set up a safe, feelings zone in your house that kids can go to in order to take care of their feelings.

“This gives the message that ALL feelings are welcome,” she says. “There are not good or bad feelings but the notion that feelings just are.”

Model how to use this space! During play- dates, model how to problem solve disagreements and work through problems. Don’t just show your child, but “tell” them. Model problem-solving and relationship building by talking through it. This helps your child understand your train of thought and how to build relationships with others.

SOCIALIZING AN ELEMENTARY CHILD

Youth sports are a great way to encourage and practice social skills. It provides kids with an opportunity to work with others, follow directions from a coach, problem solve when necessary and cope with loss.

• After-School Interests: Continue to follow your kids’ lead. Many high schools and local places such as West Chester Academy offer camps to try out different activities and sports. Also ask the parents of your kids’ peers what their kids are doing. Your child may enjoy trying out an activity with a friend.

• Supporting Success in School: Keep an open line of communication with your child’s teacher. King recommends doing activities such as cooking/baking with parents, sorting clothes, playing board games, etc. All of these activities at home can help build skills they can use at school. Another way to support your child is to check their grades together. If your child has an issue with an assignment or a question about an assignment, have them help you reach out to their teacher. You can initiate and model the contact, but let them be a part of it.

• Building and Maintaining Relationships: Build kids’ emotional skills and understand that sometimes kids have to feel their feelings for a bit and experience the discomfort, according to Russell.

“As parents, we want to fix everything and not watch our child go through this pain,” she continues.

Allowing your child to feel some of the discomfort will help them learn to process emotions that they may face in their relation- ships with peers.

SOCIALIZING OLDER KIDS

As your big kids prepare for their first job, you can review the important skills they will need to be successful at that job. You can begin by helping them practice these skills at home. Sports or other extracurricular activities are a great way for your kid to continue to build the social skills they will need post high school.

• After-School Interests: Kids are never too old to try something new! If your kid decides that they want to give a new sport or activity a try, sign them up.

• Supporting Success in School: Keep an open line of communication with your child and support them in navigating their education. Set up a time each week to sit down together and check their grades. If they have a question or concern, support them as they reach out to their teacher to ask their questions. Give your child the responsibility of contacting their teacher with your support so by the time they are off to post secondary school or work, they are confident to do it on their own.

• Building and Maintaining Relationships: The skills that your child is working on at this age are preparing them for their next step of entering the workforce or going to college. Before stepping in to solve or fix their relationship problems, push pause and ask yourself, “How can I provide support without taking over the situation?”

Keep in mind that every child reaches mile-stones at different rates and that includes skills in these areas. Continue to communicate with your child regardless of their age and ask them how you can support them – this just models maintaining a healthy relationship!

Resources:

Ohio’s Whole Child Framework; bit.ly/3QRxP42

Ohio Department of Education SEL Standards; bit.ly/3Ppdp1m

About the Author

Tina Pratt

Tina Pratt is the mom of two littles. She is a former PreK- 5 special education teacher that now works as a behavior coach. She enjoys being a tourist in her own town and finding ways to embed lessons into everyday fun!