Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators™ Online Module SE-6: Promoting Children’s Sense of Identity and Belonging
Infants and toddlers in group care need to develop relationships with the consistent group of adults and children with whom they spend their days. Forming positive relationships with others helps promote children’s sense of identity and belonging and, as children mature, supports mutual understanding and shared perspective. Helping very young children develop a basic sense of community—those people who make up their system of primary caregivers as well as their peers—promotes a sense of consistency, trust, and predictability that reinforces all aspects of social-emotional development. As children feel safe and included in a group setting, they develop a sense of personal value and identity, as well as acceptance of self and of others as part of a diverse community. These experiences build children’s self-esteem, sense of worth, and understanding of similarities and differences among community members—all of which help ready children for positive social learning opportunities.