Infants and toddlers are very egocentric. Because of their developmental level, they have not yet built strong relationships with peers. Nevertheless, there are ways that caregivers can begin to instill a sense of community in infant and toddler environments:
- Respond gently to their cues of sleepiness, hunger, engagement, disinterest, etc.
- Model strong communication skills by responding when they speak/vocalize, using active listening, asking meaningful questions, etc.
- Provide children choices of materials to play with. Model how to use materials in new ways and how to clean up materials.
- Talk with children about gentle touches and using “nice hands”. Model on baby dolls, coworkers, and children.
- Read or tell stories about taking care of animals or other people.
- Display children’s work, including pictures of the children completing the work.
- Create group murals, collages, or other art projects.
- Hang pictures of children and their families where children can see them. Use contact paper to attach pictures to floor tiles so crawlers can discover the pictures when they are on the move.
- Acknowledge caring behaviors. Complement children on their ability to be helpful and cooperative, rather than their cute shoes.