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Emotional Connections



Infants and toddlers develop and learn best through a strong emotional connection with a caring adult.

1. Build Connections Through Repetition

Build connections during routine times by using rituals (songs, rhymes, finger plays, etc.). Repetition helps young children feel safe and secure. For example, every time you lift a child to be diapered, begin singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or make up your own words, using the child’s name in the song.

2. Limit Changes in Caregivers

Young children feel safe and form stronger attachments when there are only one or two caregivers with them during the day. Limit changes in caregivers by creating a regular schedule of substitutes. Be sure to tell even non-verbal children when you are leaving the room and reassure them you will return.

3. Use Individual Greetings

Strengthen your connection to families by greeting each child and parent by name as they enter the room in the morning. This helps the parent feel more comfortable leaving and helps the child transition better. Consider a ritual like holding the child and blowing a kiss to the parent together.

4. Provide Physical Connection

Infants and toddlers need gentle, nurturing physical touch to feel safe and learn. Make sure to give each child plenty of lap time, especially while looking at books. Play games like ‘Pat-A-Cake’ and ‘This Little Piggy’ to provide a physical connection and a fun, shared experience.

5. Use Mirroring to Show Understanding

Help infants and toddlers know you understand them by mirroring back the emotion they show. For example, talk to a crying child in a sad tone of voice, saying, “You don’t want mommy to leave.” Avoid saying “don’t cry” or “it’s OK.” Then, help redirect them to a toy or activity.



Caregivers who strive to build a positive and loving relationship with each child in their care, help them to learn patterns of interaction that will endure throughout life.

1. Get to Know the Children You Teach and Care For

Ask the family for information regarding the interests and habits of their child. Have conversations with each child. Show interest in the family, their activities and home life. Play with the child. Play is a great way to build a connection and extend a child’s learning.

2. Focus on the Strengths that You See in Each Child

Provide many positive verbal messages throughout the day. A child sees himself through the eyes of others. Help him to see himself as valued, capable and worthy of love.

3. Provide a Warm Presence

Greet children every day with a smile and a warm tone of voice. Remember every day is a new beginning. When children have been absent, make sure to let them know that they were missed. Creating a “thinking of you” or a “get well soon” card from the whole group can be a wonderful way to build thoughtfulness among your children.

4. Help Children Build Friendships Within Their Group

Provide opportunities to play and work together. To lessen conflict, make sure to provide enough space and materials for all. Help children learn how to join in play, take turns, and to share. Friendship skills are built through practice and loving guidance.

5. Remember that Trusting Relationships Take Time to Grow

Be someone that the child knows that they can rely upon for care and support. Be consistent and persistent in providing that love and support. Also accept that the relationship you build with a child will have great value to the child as well as to you.