Childhood Relationship Challenges

Young children between their infant and toddler years may face a number of relationship challenges. These challenges can get in the way of their social learning. Children with temperamental difficulties need support from caregivers to adjust their attitudes and emotional responses.

Here we will go through a few potential relationship challenges and how caregivers can help improve on these problems.

Child Who Bites People

  • Children who bite are not aware that other people’s feelings are different from their own and may not know that they are harming someone else
  • To help change and understand biting behaviours a caregiver can:
    • Teach children how to communicate with words (if they are able) when frustrated, or use sign and body language if they do not speak yet
    • Realize that children are still new to social situations and are learning how to interact, and use this knowledge to support their social development
    • Pay attention to which specific incidents result in biting in order to narrow down and minimize the triggers for this behaviour
    • Lastly, caregivers should be aware that there may be mistrust between the two children involved in a biting incident and this relationship needs nurturing and support to be repaired

Child Who Feels Fearful, Cautious, and/or Withdraws from Others

  • Some infants and toddlers are just naturally more fearful and cautious in social situations. They tend to withdraw from potential peers and adults and never seem comfortable in their social environment
  • To help change and understand withdrawal/fearful behaviours caregivers can:
    • Pair fearful children with less fearful ones to support a peer relationship that may alter overly cautious behaviours
    • Always communicate with these children in a calm, soothing voice, especially when changes are happening in their day
    • Do not reprimand the fearful child as this may make them withdraw more. Rather, provide emotional support when attempting to engage the child in activities

Child Who Hurts other Beings or Materials in the Environment

  • Often times the child who exhibits aggressive behaviour has learned this behaviour by seeing it in other places, or are they are aggressive in an attempt to seek attention
  • To help change and understand aggressive behaviour caregivers can:
    • Observe when the child behaves in this manner and attempt to determine what they are trying to communicate, and teach them how to use words or other body language to communicate the same thing
    • Communicate with other caregivers to create plans for reducing behaviour
    • Give child one-on-one time to build relationship and give attention to them
    • Alter the environment to promote calm if necessary

Child Who Feels Rejected

  • Sometimes children may be rejected by peers
  • To help children bounce back from rejection caregivers can:
    • Observe when and why child is rejected in order to alter circumstances that lead to that situation
    • Teach the rejected child how to better interact with peers and keep a positive attitude
    • If rejected child becomes aggressive, teach them alternative ways to express their frustration and give them emotional support

Source: Petersen, Sandra H., and Donna S. Wittmer. Infant and Toddler Curriculum, 2nd Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012. VitalBook file.


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