Emotional development in children is an area of keen interest in parents now. Also, emotional intelligence is the key factor in the education process.
As Socrates said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all”
Emotions are now key to parenting and education. Acceptance and recognition of feelings is the quickest way to happiness and success.
Emotional learning begins at a very young age. As kids grow they recognise many emotions and they evolve as they grow.
Emotions in a child:
As parents, we need to understand how to deal with various kinds of emotions that a child shows. We need to help the child understand and cope with their emotions.
3 points on how to help the child deal with their emotions.
1. Help the child recognize their emotion.
Always listen to what your child is telling you. It’s very important to listen to them and identify their emotions. Use various words which express feelings while conversing with your child. Try and use more positive words like excited, happy or proud. If you want to communicate some negative feeling like fear, you could include body sensation which describes fear, confused, angry like sweaty hands or butterflies in the stomach. Once the child learns to identify the feeling or emotion encourage them to use the words when they converse.
2. Help the child identify the causes of difficult emotions.
Difficult emotions would be fear, sadness or anger. Generally its difficult for a child to express these emotions correctly. A small child gets cranky while dealing with such emotions. We as parents need to identify the causes of such emotions. A child might experience these emotions if he would have a fight with a friend or a sibling or would have had a bad day at school. Also, remember that what would be a real trigger for one child would not have the same effect on other so while dealing with your child you can definitely use other people’s experiences but deal with your child’s feelings in isolation and do not get influenced by others.
3. Help your child to cope with their emotions.
Once the child recognizes the cause of the emotion, help them communicate what they feel. You can link the emotion to some story, that would help the child to express himself easily. For younger kids, this practice could be very effective. As a parent, you need to reassure him that any difficult situation can be dealt with easily. They need to be made to understand that everything happens for the reason and once they learn to identify the reasons, they can learn to deal with them easily. I would also recommend the use of various toys to help them understand their emotions and deal with them.
A child can most effectively display his emotions during play time. Various toys help kids to express their emotions easily. Toys like dolls, doctor set, outdoor play sets and also games with visual timers help a lot in expressing their emotions.
Dolls and doctor set help expressing feelings of care, nurturing and important lessons regarding health are also learnt during play.
Outdoor play sets like swings and slides help develop communication skills and increase emotional quotient in a child.
Games with visual timers make them more independent and help to introduce the concept of time with regard to play time.
4. Give a child the maximum opportunity to express his emotions.
We need to respect a child’s social and emotional development. As a parent and also as an educator we need to be aware that a child may be physically and intellectually capable of doing various tasks ahead of the age but emotionally they may or may not be.
A child generally expresses all difficult emotions by crying. Let the child cry. Tears support social and emotional development. Generally, a society which is incapable of dealing with emotions healthily looks upon tears as a sign of weakness or being vulnerable.
Being compassionate to the feeling of the child will help the child to express his feelings openly. This helps build trust with the child and we can then help the child to manage his emotions easily.
With the advent of the social media, emotions are now expressed easily with the wide use of emoticons. This shows how emotional development is gaining importance in today’s times which have become extremely stressful. Thankfully now as parents, we have various resources which can be used for the emotional development of the child.
I request you to share your experiences on how you dealt with difficult emotions with your child. It would guide other parents in managing the emotions of their children too.