Use play opportunities to teach your child ‘referential communication’. This is where you explain something from your own viewpoint to someone who has a different viewpoint. Younger children find this tricky because they assume that if they can see something, others can too and in the same way. I’d recommend sitting back to back with your child, and talking about the different things you can both see together. They will probably assume that whatever they can see, you can too.
These are great skills to help them learn to see the world from other people’s viewpoints, which will help when they socialise with others in these new situations and with school as they grow up. You could also use little characters, teddies or dolls to develop this skill too. For example, you could try asking them to explain to a doll in an upstairs bathroom in the dolls’ house what the doll in the downstairs kitchen can see.
Provide opportunities where you can discuss feelings with your child, this will allow them to know that it is OK to let you know how they are feeling and will continue to help them develop their awareness of how others feel too. You could do this through conversation or you can set up some different play opportunities such as playing with playdough where you could make different characters or faces showing emotions, using mirrors to practise making different expressions or by reading different books that discuss emotions or have feelings and emotions for the storyline.
Make the most of the new!
As we are now able to do a lot more with others than in the past recent months, and have the choice of whether we would like to wear a face covering (in most places now), it is important to make the most of new social situations.
It is important to model to our children, even if it is just engaging in conversation with the window cleaner, bus driver or postman, as it provides those all-important social situations that we have not really been able to have in these recent months.
You could ask your child if they would like to say a socially distanced hello to different people and encourage your child to respond once the person has greeted them. You could also comment on the interaction and point out things that you can see, such as their facial expression, whether they have facial hair that partially blocks being able to see their mouth, or what their body language looked like. This encourages your child to focus on the structures that allow language to flourish.