DECEMBER – Rather than spending money on the hottest gadgets for young children this Holiday Season, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan suggests that parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles consider giving gifts that promote social and emotional interaction among toddlers and youngsters.
“We can begin learning to express ourselves and understand our own emotions before we reach age five,” said Natalie Kasiborski, Community Health Coordinator for the Health Department. “Parents often have trouble knowing what words to use, or how to help young children identify and deal with their emotions. For most of us, the Holiday Season is a time of increased social activity, and emotions may be running high as well, so it makes perfect sense to consider age-appropriate gifts that can help with social and emotional language development.”
Patty Clark, Infant Mental Health Specialist with North Country Community Mental Health, has recommended a number of books aimed at giving parents and younger children the vocabulary they need to explain and cope with everyday emotions. “Young children experience an array of complex emotions, yet they lack the means to express themselves or to identify what they're feeling,” Clark explained. “This is frustrating for them, and for their families. Books like these offer important ways to connect with children, including those who suffer from anxiety, fear, anger, or who may have gone through a traumatic experience, such as the loss of a loved one or a parental separation. They're often as helpful to parents and other adults as they are to the children.”
Clark added that the development of social and emotional language is important not only for children who have experienced trauma or loss, but for all children to be able to communicate their daily range of emotions.
For more ideas and resources to encourage young children to connect on a social and emotional level during the holidays, contact Kasiborski at (231) 347-5144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. Visit the Health Department online at www.nwhealth.org or call (800) 432-4121 for more information.Books recommended by Patty Clark, Infant Mental Health Specialist, North Country Community Mental Health: