Interactions build relationships through interrelating and growth. Children learn by being with others. Children learn by being involved in making choices and decisions, and by feeling in control. Learning is enjoyable and rewarding for them when they challenge themselves. When they use and build on their existing knowledge, understanding, and skills, they enjoy learning. Children learn best in a well-planned, well-resourced environment with child-initiated readied activities. These activities will build their interests and experiences.


Interactions can even help with social emotional development. Strong, positive relationships also help children develop trust, empathy, compassion, and develop a sense of right and wrong. Starting from birth, babies learn who they are by how they are treated. Loving relationships provide young children with a sense of comfort, safety, and confidence. They teach young children how to form friendships, communicate emotions, and deal with challenges. Children that learn together gain experiences in leading, following, negotiating, conflict resolution, making mistakes, and taking risks.


Staff-Child Interactions:

  • Occasional smiles
  • Talking
  • Affections shown to children throughout the day
  • Staff respond sympathetically to help children who are hurt, angry, or upset
  • No harsh verbal or physical staff-child interactions
  • Some warm and responsive physical affection throughout the day in routines or play
  • Staff and children use relaxed voices
  • Staff is responsive to each child’s mood and needs
  • Staff is sensitive about children’s feelings and reactions

Supervision of Play and Learning:

  • Children within sight, hearing distance, and easy to reach
  • Attention is on caregivers responsibilities
  • Awareness of the whole group
  • React quickly to solve problems
  • Staff interact through play with children and show interest in or appreciation of what they do
  • Staff help and give encouragement when needed

Peer Interactions:

  • Opportunities for peer interactions
  • Staff stop negative peer interactions
  • Staff facilitate positive peer interactions
  • Staff model positive social interactions


  • Never use physical punishment
  • Expectations are age appropriate and something the child can do
  • Positive methods of discipline
  • No time-outs
  • Staff help children understand the effects of their own actions on others
  • Staff help children learn to use communication rather than aggression to solve problems
  • Attention frequently given when children are behaving well


Remember the nature of children’s interactions with other children depends on their social skills as they learn to understand and to balance their own ‘wants’ with those of others. Building relationships takes time and friendships grow slowly through daily interactions with the same people. Child-child interactions thrive in settings where children have time each day to play, work, interact, and communicate with the same group of children, and where they are encouraged and supported to seek help from and offer help to each other. Play also stretches and enhances learning and development.

If you would like more information on interactions, contact Heather Gordon, Infant Toddler Specialist at 815-484-9442 Ext: 228



Zero to Three