Expressing Warmth and Affection, Helping Children Build Relationships

Expressing warmth and affection to children is important for many reasons. It’s crucial for children of all ages to be appropriately touched and hugged by adults. Touching and holding infants and toddlers helps them feel secure and learn to trust their caregivers. A positive and supportive relationship promotes brain development. By remaining calm and responsive to the child’s needs, adults can reassure and calm an anxious child. Finally, these activities will help you develop a good relationship with the children, and this will help you feel good, enjoy your work, and have fun.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Greet each child warmly. Smile, make eye contact, and use a positive tone of voice that says you are happy to see the child. Use the child’s name. This approach is especially important when a child has been absent or is new to a program.
2. Be friendly and affectionate with each child. Warmth and affection can be shown through your expression, laughter, voice, and words (e.g., “little one”, “I am glad you are here”). It can also be expressed through touch. Leaning against a child, giving a quick gentle touch on the head, arm or shoulder, and hugging are appropriate ways to show affection through touch. Snuggling with several children while reading together is a natural and enjoyable way to do this. Show each child you care by responding individually and being sensitive to their needs. Remember to:

· Provide regular positive attention to each child every day
· Get on the child’s level for face-to-face interactions
· Use a pleasant, calm voice, and simple language while making eye contact
· Provide warm, responsive physical contact
· Listen carefully to children and encourage them to use words to express their feelings
· Make plans to spend time alone with your young child or teen doing something s/he enjoys.
· Mark family game nights on your calendar so the entire family can be together. Put a different family member’s name under each date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening.
· Owning a pet can make children, especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by stimulating physical activity, enhancing their overall attitude, and offering constant companionship.
· One of the best ways to familiarize your child with good food choices is to encourage him to cook with you. Let him get involved in the entire process, from planning the menus to shopping for ingredients to the actual food preparation and its serving.
3. Think about whether your joy and your good feelings about children are easy for them to see. Remember that children who act out are often those who need the most warmth and affection.

Source: http://www.healthychildcare.org/CaregiverEnews.cfm