Hellos and goodbyes important in child development

The way parents say hello and goodbye to their children when they are at daycare centres can have a significant impact on their development, says a visiting child education specialist.

Australian psychologist Dr Robyn Dolby said the greetings and farewells from parents could make children feel more emotionally secure and teach them to better understand and organise their feelings.

Dr Dolby, brought to New Zealand by the Anglican Trust for Women and Children, said "ordinary moments" in apparently simple daily interactions between caregivers, parents and children, could make a difference to how toddlers and pre-schoolers formed relationships, and their ability to learn.

Dr Dolby, a 33-veteran in the field of infant mental health, was brought to Auckland by the trust to run a workshop on how parents and caregivers could look beyond their immediate behaviour and think about how to meet their relationship needs.

The trust which brought her to New Zealand said it was a major Auckland charity which provided counselling, social work and treatment services focussing on early intervention.

It said part of its role was to "empower families to break the cycle of their problems and change their lives".

Dr Dolby said creating "play spaces" should promote good emotional links at the beginning and end of the day between teachers and children and teachers and parents.

"In the first 30 seconds of coming into day care, children are looking for someone to connect with. They are asking 'am I on your radar. Do you see me?'

"Our research has shown that greeting parents and children in a way that focuses on how the child actually feels and including the parent in that conversation makes both of them feel more relaxed and included," she said.



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