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  • Writer's pictureLena Agree JD, PsyD

5 Ways for Your Nanny to Support Your Child’s Cognitive Development, Ages 0 to 5 ~ Part 2 of 2

Methods 4 and 5

In the last post on Supporting Your Child's Cognitive Development, we discussed the first three ways your nanny can support your young child’s cognitive development. Here we address suggestions 4 and 5.

Method #4. Offer choices. Children benefit from having choices at every age. It supports the ability to weigh alternatives and understand the consequence of losing the unchosen option. Providing realistic choices also promotes a sense of agency and independent thinking, since making a choice is an action your child does inside his/her own mind. Infants and toddlers benefit from limiting the choices to 2 or 3, such as “peas or carrots.” Older children can manage a greater number of choices without feeling overwhelmed, and eventually make open-ended decisions (eg: What book would you like to read?).

Method #5. Scaffold social interactions and problem-solving. As discussed in Part 1 of this 2-part series, “scaffolding” refers to the process of supporting increasingly higher levels of sophistication in small, digestible doses that the child can absorb. It is a key concept that is applicable to development in all areas and at all ages (even adults). In terms of promoting social interactions and problem-solving, your caregiver can scaffold your child in the following ways:

Infants and toddlers

  • Model and teach infants and toddlers to touch others gently

  • When talking about people, refer to their feelings

  • When social interactions go bad between toddlers redirect them to other things (they are too young to understand the consequences of their actions)

Children 5 and up

  • Model and gently teach turn-taking

  • Suggest strategies regarding social interactions, such as taking turns, finding other toys

  • Empathize with the child’s feelings and add a discussion of other people’s feelings and perspectives

Successful scaffolding requires a supportive, non-critical stance. Shaming a child is never constructive (and generally destructive), so it is best to assume and treat children as if they are behaving in this way because they don’t understand something, and need your help and encouragement to try a different strategy (your scaffolding!).

Check out the next post to learn what your nanny can do to Support Your Child's Language Development.

Based on research by:

Atkins-Burnett, Sally, Shannon Monahan, Louisa Tarullo, Yange Xue, Elizabeth Cavadel, Lizabeth Malone, and Lauren Akers (2015). Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions for Infants and Toddlers (Q-CCIIT). OPRE Report 2015-13. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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