Infants and toddlers are explorers— Their interactions with trusted adults provide the emotional fuel these very young children need to puzzle out the mysteries of the social and physical world. HighScope provides a range of strategies caregivers can use to create supportive interactions with infants and toddlers.
Because trusting relationships are so important, caregivers strive to ensure that each infant or toddler in a child care center or home has the same primary caregiver throughout enrollment, whether that be for 6 months or 3 years; in settings with multiple caregivers, each one is the "primary" for only a small group of children, and the caregivers form a stable team that provides long-term continuity of care for children and families.
Caregivers strive to form positive, reciprocal relationships with children — relationships in which encouragement is the key. They cuddle, hold, play, and talk with children in a warm, unhurried, give-and-take manner. They establish a psychologically safe environment, where children's initiatives are regarded as purposeful rather than naughty or bothersome for adults. Guided by practical theories of child development, caregivers attempt to see things from the child's point of view, encourage rather than thwart children's efforts and communications, take cues from children rather than impose their own ideas, and assume a problem-solving approach to children's interpersonal conflicts rather than punish children or solve their problems for them.
Very young children are just formulating a sense of themselves and an understanding of what the rest of the world is all about. Their interactions with parents and caregivers significantly influence the life-long conclusions children draw from their experiences. If parents' and caregivers' interactions are supportive, this shapes children's perceptions of themselves as capable, trusted, and trustworthy human beings.