As parents, we are constantly stressing about our kids’s well-being. From worrying if they are reaching their milestones on time, to ensuring that they pick up new skills. Parents want the best for their children and prepare them to survive in this competitive world.
What we forget most of the time is that every kid is different and they develop at their own pace. So no matter how much you fret, they will blossom and bloom but when their time comes and at their own pace.
That’s one good reason to be open to different parenting theories that can help you connect and bond with your child. One such theory is by psychologist Lev Vygotsky.
His work from the early 1900s is the pioneer in research for cognitive development in kids. The theory has some great tips for parents who are looking to use everyday moments to help kids thrive.
The Vygotsky theory of cognitive development teaches parents to develop positive and constructive interactions with their children in the course of everyday life.
This is more important for those parents often stress about how to help their kids process the frustration.
What Is Vygotsky Theory?
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The Vygotsky theory emphasises children learning about the world around them through older adults who can make everyday moments into teaching opportunities.
Vygotsky believes that kids form their beliefs, cultural values, and problem-solving strategies through their exchanges with “skilled tutors” who can be their parents or teachers.
He suggested that learning has its basis in interacting with other people. Once the interaction has happened, the information is then integrated on an individual level.
As children follow the verbal instruction their tutor gives them (the process also known as collaborative dialogue), they not only emulate the tutor, but also processes the learning.
The Collaborative Dialogue Of Parenting
Vygotsky used the phrase collaborative dialogue to refer to the intentional conversations adults have with their kids. These talks allow the children to verbalise their thoughts and share how those feelings inform their actions.
As Dr Elisabeth Netherton, a psychiatrist, notes that collaborative dialogue can be freeing for both–the parent and the child–because it allows them to focus on practice, instead of the outcome.
She says that when we remove the pressure on ourselves to be perfect, we also alleviate the burden kids feel to be perfect. This opens up the scope to teach forgiveness, flexible thinking, and also focus on learning and growing as a person rather than running after getting things “right.”
She further explains that a parent talking through their own poor behaviour while driving can provide a better learning opportunity for their kids.
For instance, Dr. Netherton suggests saying, “You heard me say some means things when we were stuck in traffic. I was frustrated, but I was wrong and that is not how I want to express my feelings. I promise to be kind and give it another try when we are in the car this afternoon.”
The Vygotsky Theory Stages Of Parenting
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The major components of Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development are the Zone of Proximal Development and scaffolding.
Zone Of Proximal Development
He shares that every person has two stages of skill development. The first one is what they are able to accomplish themselves. The second one is what they can do with the help of their mentor or teacher.
Vygotsky’s concept of the zone of proximal development believes that when teaching a child new skills, they learn best from situations where they can almost complete a task on their own but aren’t quite there.
That is when a teacher or a parent should ideally step in. They should offer less assistance until the child has mastered the task on their own.
The Vygotsky theory also emphasises the learning process called scaffolding. It provides proactive opportunities through play to model healthy ways of dealing with and overcoming frustration.
Netherton says for younger kids or those who get frustrated easily, the focus should be on helping them put words to their emotions. Also, emphasising those emotions and then focussing on the problem-solving process together.
Examples of scaffolding techniques include when parents and teachers
- Use visual aids
- Offer clues
- Work one-on-one with students
- Provide examples
Lowering Stakes In Parenting
Dr Netherton shares that when she talks to kids about the idea of “practice,” she stresses lowering the stakes. Her emphasis is that the issue at hand is not a matter of life and death but a good place to play around with new ideas.
Helping them focus on staying calm works great. This way children are able to relax and they can reframe the situation in a manner that is less threatening and gives them more room to try out new things.
One of the main takeaways from Vygotsky’s cognitive development in kids theory is that children can learn so much by discovering things on their own. But to help them progress, they need their teachers or mentors who can guide them in their quest for knowledge and new skills.
Does this parenting technique intrigue you?
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