Sandbrook was closed yesterday so that all staff could attend a Hackney Learning Trust conference on ‘The importance of being two’.
Speakers included Julia Manning-Morton who described how two year olds often get emotionally overwhelmed. They need to form secure emotional attachments and to have continuity and consistency as a base from which to explore the world around them. She believes they develop best in smaller groups with high numbers of staff to support them.
At Sandbrook every child has a key person who forms a close relationship with the child and their family. They observe the child, getting to know them well, and they work in partnership with parents to plan activities which reflect their interests and encourage them to explore and discover as they move along the road to greater independence.
One thing Julia did mention which is interesting to think about, is how we praise children. She recommends that praise should not be overdone, should be genuine and should be specific. Julia says that the aim is for children to develop inner understanding and control of themselves not to rely on praise from others. So we shouldn’t praise children for everyday achievements but should praise them for specific things when we really mean it. For example, rather than saying ‘what a brilliant painting’ you could say ‘I really love the way that you have used all those different colours to make the sun’.
There was also a session at the conference on the emotional development of two year olds. Some children of this age can’t bear to feel little and helpless so they become bossy as a way of covering this up and some become super fussy as a way of getting adults to recognise that they have their own choices and preferences. Others become clingy and fearful and many throw temper tantrums when they get exhausted and overwhelmed. As adults it is our job to teach children how to control their feelings and emotions and it’s important that we show understanding and tolerance as well as firmness. The best thing to do is to stay calm, acknowledge their feelings, restate the problem and then ask for solutions and choose one. Always try to give follow up support. Two year olds will eventually learn to share and to accept people saying ‘no’ when they want something – honestly!
If you want any advice on coping with your child’s behaviour at home, or want to know more about how we deal with behaviour at Sandbrook please don’t hesitate to speak to your child’s key person.