From Biting to Hugging
Understanding Social Development in Infants and Toddlers

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From Biting to Hugging Excerpt


From Biting to Hugging
Understanding Social Development in Infants and Toddlers



Item number: 15928
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With the increase in both parents working outside the home during the last two decades, infants and toddlers are spending more time together in infant/toddler programs and family child-care homes. From Biting to Hugging will give you effective strategies to help you take advantage of this peer time.

  • Enhance the quality of peer experiences in infant/toddler group settings
  • Create responsive adult-child relationships and environments
  • Encourage positive social emotional development and learning
  • Teach infants and toddlers how to be in healthy, enjoyable relationships
  • Learn strategies for gently handling challenging behaviors
Donna Wittmer, PhD

Donna Wittmer, PhD, is associate professor emerita of early childhood and early childhood special education in the School of Education at the University of Colorado, Denver. She earned her doctorate in...

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Deanna W. Clauson

Deanna W. Clauson is a freelance writer. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She writes articles, essays, grant applications, web-marketing content, and case...

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From Biting to Hugging has won the Academics' Choice Awards™ 2018 Smart Book Award.

“Generous. Empathic. Helpful. Caring. Kind. Friendly. Those aren’t usually the first words that come to mind when talking about infants and toddlers. From Biting to Hugging will change the way you see young children and early social development. For much of our history, we have linked social and emotional learning and development. Then, we mostly looked at the emotional domain. Donna and Deanna bring each aspect of social learning and development to life with a story. Dozens of toddlers show us how they help friends who are crying, prefer prosocial to mean behavior in others, and celebrate deeply felt friendships. They show us how they are learning when there are conflicts and hurt feelings. The teachers on these pages display warmth and wisdom as they support the children’s learning. From Biting to Hugging provides a readable but thorough review of current research from around the world. Chapters describe how infants, young toddlers, and older toddlers learn to be social partners, the capacities they bring to caring, the struggles and learning of peer conflicts, and being particularly challenged by peer relationships. Following each of these descriptive chapters is a chapter with strategies for the teacher to support learning. This is the only resource I know that focuses on this fundamental, foundational domain. Everyone working with infants and toddlers should read it.”

Sandy Petersen
Zero to Three

“The new book From Biting to Hugging: Understanding Social Development in Infants and Toddlers, by Donna S. Wittmer and Deanna W. Clauson, draws from current research and decades of best practice to offer practical information on how to support early social development. Written in a clear, easily accessible style, this book encourages the reader first to understand children’s behavior and consider the child’s perspective. Above all, the authors illuminate the unique kind of learning that happens in infants’ and toddlers’ peer relationships. Wittmer and Clauson set the stage for specific strategies by addressing what it takes to foster the development of secure attachments in early care settings. Their practical advice to implement policies that promote the continuity of primary relationships will nicely connect with broader efforts to promote high-quality care for infants and toddlers. Within secure relationships and a climate of care, the book spells out three core strategies infant and toddler teachers can use:  Mind-mindedness, assuming good intentions, and encouraging and supporting peer interaction. Together these strategies can help adults understand the child’s perspective in a positive way and build on the strengths and inclination of individual children to relate to others with respect and care.”

Peter Mangione

“The authors quote teacher concerns that reflect an earnest desire to help “younger and older toddlers be kinder to each other.” Throughout this book, the authors offer wise, gentle, and practical ideas. And the suggestions in this book will indeed help teachers of very young children to provide the kind of insightful, and patient care that promotes the development of prosocial attitudes and behaviors that will help little ones flourish in group care as well as rejoice their loving care providers. ”

Dr. Alice Sterling Honig, PhD
Professor Emerita of Childhood Development, Department of Child and Family Studies, Syracuse University

“Wittmer and Clauson offer an in-depth look at young children’s emerging social competence. Starting from the tenent that infants and toddlers are social beings, the book translates essential theory into the effective and supportive practices babies need from the adults in their lives. In contemporary society, most infants and toddlers spend time in out-of-home care and in the company of a peer group that doesn’t typically exist in a family. Babies are challenged to negotiate a world in which they must share the spotlight—the space, materials, routines, and the attention of adults—with other children. The book recognizes three distinct (though often overlapping) developmental periods: birth to 12 months, 12 to 24 months, and 24 to 36 months. It offers concrete and specific guidance for supporting emerging competence at each period. Blanketing all periods is the understanding that safe, consistent, protected, and authentic relationships with adults is key to positive, prosocial outcomes. Charts, tables, vignettes, and references support the strategies that are so clearly described—and are valuable prompts for adult professional development. Particularly useful is the book’s consideration of individual and group differences— the ways in which temperament, gender, and culture impact the goodness of fit so essential to adult-child interactions and the dance of reciprocity. Two chapters focus on peer conflict—and developmentally appropriate strate- gies for encouraging resolution and a return to social harmony.”

Fall 2018 issue of Texas Child Care Quarterly