Two of the most important developmental issues facing toddlers, families, and educators are separation anxiety and language development. Separation anxiety can be traumatic for toddlers who have become accustomed to the natural bond with parents, particularly the parent who acts as primary caregiver. It is normal for toddlers to act out when faced with the prospect of even a brief separation from the parent(s), as they are uneasy about being taken from the "bubble" of security which they feel when in the presence of the parent(s). Language development is another vital area for toddlers. By learning language skills and utilizing them, the child will gain a sense of self-confidence, and be able to communicate effectively with others. As a social worker, I have observed that perhaps the greatest source of frustration for developmentally challenged children is the lack of effective language/communication skills.
Educators and parents can support the child in coping with both separation anxiety and language development. There are several effective strategies for supporting the child with separation anxiety. Firstly, it is helpful to establish a schedule for separations, beginning with brief periods of "alone time", so that the child will become acclimated to being alone from time to time. It is also important to set and enforce limits, and to be consistent in enforcing those limits; by giving in to tantrums and other negative behaviors, parents prolong the development of skills needed to cope effectively with separations. The child will generally become comfortable with the routine, and will essentially grow out of the separation anxiety. In language development, educators can engage the child in conversation, and encourage the child to express himself/herself verbally. Reading to a child is also an effective tool for fostering language development; children absorb far more than most parents or educators may realize, and continual exposure to language will have a positive effect upon the child's development of effective verbal communication skills.
At this stage of life, many cognitive changes are occurring; the child is becoming aware of his/her surroundings, and is learning how to relate to, and interact with, his/her environment and the people in it. The changes are vast, and parents and educators play a vital role in helping the child to develop skills as fully as possible. Educators should collaborate with parents to formulate effective strategies for assisting the child in reaching his/her full potential. Establishing a similar learning environment in the home as that in the school is helpful in reinforcing development and learning.
I hope this is helpful.
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