Personal, social & emotional development (PSED) for toddlers
Why is nurturing PSED in your child so important? And how can you do this?
When talking about child development these days, the focus is no longer only on promoting cognitive skills. Educators now know that the Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) of a child, is equally important. When a child’s education happens on all these fronts, they develop into the best person they possibly can be. So, how can you nurture these crucial skills in your child? It’s simple with our guide for PSED activities for toddlers!
Education experts refer to Personal, Social and Emotional Development as “three building blocks of future success in life.” They are interlinked, but have individual definitions:
- Personal development (being “me”) – how you understand who you are, and what you can do.
- Social development (being social) – this refers to how you understand yourself in relation to others, and behave toward them. It also includes how you make friends and comprehend rules of society.
- Emotional development (to have feelings) – how you understand others’ feelings and your own. Also, how you develop empathy to others, i.e., the ability to “stand in their shoes”.
Establishing PSED in young children — starting from toddlerhood — is so important. This is because it teaches little ones important skills such as how to make friends and relate well to others, feel valued and confident. Eventually, it builds in them a solid sense of self-worth.
Also, toddlerhood is typically when a child starts expressing their emotions, quite intensely sometimes! It’s now that they start forming friendships and learn how to forge relationships with others, especially if they start preschool. So establishing good PSED at this stage makes sense.
Before we give you some wonderful PSED activities for toddlers, Mums and dads, remember that you are the foundation of successful PSED in your child.
You don’t have to overthink it, too. You’re nurturing your children’s PSED in the best possible way every time you hug, cuddle and kiss them. When you praise them and show pride in their achievements. And when you celebrate all of this with your family and other loved ones.
On the other hand, parents who withhold love and affection, are abusive, neglect their child’s health or are addicted to drugs or alcohol, stunt their children’s PSED.
Besides providing your little ones with a loving, warm home environment, there are PSED activities for toddlers that you can also do.
1. Read books about feelings and emotions
This is one of the best PSED activities for toddlers. Besides telling them stories about emotions and feelings — their own and of others — you’re also encouraging a love of reading and bonding at the same time.
Here’s a great list to get you started:
- In My Heart: A Book of Feelings – This gorgeous book examines the full range of emotions, and how they are experienced physically.
- Making Faces: A First Book About Feelings – This board book introduces your baby to five feelings: happy, sad, angry, surprised and silly. It’s illustrated with babies’ faces that portray the feelings described. There’s even a mirror at the end of the book so little ones can practice making their own “feelings faces” and see how they look.
- My Many Colored Days – By the ever-popular Dr. Seuss, this book associates feeling and moods, with colours. While some parents might not agree with this association, the book’s redeeming factor is it’s simple core message: “But it all turns out all right, you see. And I go back to being me.”
2. Play games with your toddler
It doesn’t have to be just child’s play! When you play games with your toddler, you’re teaching them “social rules” such as how to take turns, how to play games fairly and with others, and how to win and lose gracefully.
Even a game as simple as playing catch with a ball can teach your toddler these skills.
Here are some more ideas:
- One for you, one for me: this game teaches your toddler about sharing. All you need to do is place a pile of large buttons or crayons on a table or the ground. Then, ask your toddler to evenly share them one at a time between you both, while saying, “one for you, one for me”! Simple.
- Puzzles: It may not have crossed your mind before, but puzzles are among the best PSED activities for toddlers that teach patience!
- Hot and cold: Hide a toy in the room and ask your toddler to look for it. When he goes close to it, say “hot” and when he goes further away, say “cold”. What PSED skills does this teach? Patience and perseverance!
3. Name your toddler’s emotions
We know that toddlers are tiny bundles of (sometimes uncontrolled) emotions. It’s when they can’t handle those emotions that they throw those epic tantrums.
Among the PSED activities for toddlers that you can do, is one that teaches them to name their emotions. So “happy” can have a name, likewise “sad”, “angry” etc. By giving names to feelings, you’re helping make them less scary to your tot, and easier to handle.
4. Step out!
Many parents of toddlers are wary of taking them out for fear they’ll throw a public tantrum. But by restricting their exposure like this, you’re not teaching them how to interact with other people and how to behave when out and about.
The trick in taking your toddler out lies in the timing. Don’t head out when your little one is tired or hungry. Pick a time when he is usually at his happiest and don’t stay out for more than a couple of hours. Remember to model the behaviour you expect from your child, e.g. waiting in line, saying “please” and “thank you”.
5. Play “Silly” together!
Yes, this has to be one of the most fun PSED activities for toddlers, ever! Simply be silly together. Pull funny faces, laugh, tickle… whatever gets those giggle bubbling out in an adorable show of positive emotions.
Parents, we hope you now have a better understanding of why your little one’s Personal Social and Emotional Development is so important, and how you can nurture this through PSED activities for toddlers!