Your child starts developing social and emotional skills from the moment he/she is born, and this growth continues in the years that follow. The development of these skills during the pre-school years is crucial for your child to excel in primary school and beyond. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics also states that early social-emotional development “is a fundamental part of a child’s overall health and well-being.”
A group of researchers at Texas Tech University wanted to find out if watching educational kids’ TV programmes such as Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood (aired on Disney Junior daily in Singapore at 8.30am) could also help in the development of social and emotional skills in pre-schoolers.
What did the study reveal?
In the study conducted over two weeks, 127 pre-schoolers were asked to watch 10 episodes of either Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood or a nature show. Children who watched Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood showed higher levels of empathy, self-efficacy (they displayed confidence in social situations) and the ability to recognise emotions compared to those who watched the nature show.
However, there was an important factor that led to the correlation between watching the show and the socio-emotional skills displayed by the pre-schoolers – the frequent TV sessions had to be complemented with regular parent-child conversations about the content of the show.
Thus, it is apparent that children (especially those below 4) benefit more from watching the show when parental involvement is present.
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What does this mean?
The results of the study highlighted the fact that educational TV programmes have evolved to the point whereby they have the ability to maintain a child’s attention, they are developmentally appropriate, they feature characters with whom children can identify with and they incorporate effective teaching techniques that help children learn.
On the other hand, it also means that parents need to play their part by reinforcing the lessons taught in their children’s TV programmes. Propping your children in front of the TV and expecting them to grow academically and develop good social skills would not lead to the desired results.
There are some simple activities that you can do with your child to build his/her social and emotional skills during the early years. More on this on the next page…