Through a child’s eyes, the world is new and exciting as well as sometimes scary. Personal and emotional development and learning the importance of social boundaries are invaluable skills that every child has to learn in their early years.
Good emotional development is associated with good academic performance, kindness and generally happy and well rounded individuals. We are not born knowing what is emotionally acceptable, and order to become a happy and successful adult, a child has to emotionally develop and grow.
The following ten emotional building activities are ways that your child can learn about the world in a fun, exciting and safe way.
1. Singing and dancing
This could be as simple as singing nursery rhymes and learning the actions. Learning and singing songs and performing to friends and family members can promote confidence and self esteem- emotional skills which are important throughout life.
Many children’s books have morals in their stories which will help to teach a child between right and wrong. Through stories children are able to mentally place themselves in different scenarios and learn vicariously the difference between what is ‘good’ and ‘bad.’
3. Sports and games
The level of the sport depends on the child’s age, it could be anything from organized team sports to learning to throw and catch a soft ball. Many sporty activities will develop team building skills and co operation, encouraging a child to interpret the emotions and feelings of others. Learning how to interact with others to achieve a shared goal is a great way to improve a child’s emotional development.
4. Arts and crafts
Painting, drawing, even making models from Plasticine are activities that encourage creativity and imagination in children. Children of all ages are able to take pride in what they have created promoting confidence and self esteem. Gaining confidence is an important part of emotional development, and will help the child gain a sense of self worth and accomplishment in a fun way.
5. Role play/ make believe
This dramatic play is helps to expand cognitive, social and emotional skills. Using puppets or assigning characters to stuffed toys is beneficial for children’s emotional development as it allows you to communicate with them on their level. It may encourage them to open up about any worries they are facing and openly speak about their feelings.
6. Visiting new places
Going to the zoo, the park or even just a country walk. Have the child name things they are familiar with and ask them questions. This will allow them to make sense of the world and gain understanding and opinions of things. Forming personal views and opinions, likes and dislikes on a wide variation of topics is an indication of good emotional development.
7. One on one conversations
Asking a child to vocalize their likes and dislikes, and opinions on different things allows them to gain an understanding on how to speak to people in a way which is acceptable and a way in which they are easily understood. ‘Feelings Cards’ in this setting may be helpful, and are simply cards with faces showing different emotions. When unable to answer a question, the child is simply able to point to the card in order to express their opinion, and from here you can ask them to elaborate and explain the choice they have made.
8. Playing with other children
This could be games or activities between children in small or large groups, to allow them to interact and understand what acceptable behavior is among their peers. Learning to manage emotions and practice self control in a setting other than the home is hugely important for their transition into older childhood, school, day care etc. Many toddlers show anxiety around other children at first, and so socialization at a young age is important to prevent this from becoming more of a problem as they get older
Younger children can begin by practicing drawing letters from the alphabet whereas older children can be encouraged to write sentences. Asking a child to write a sentence each day in a diary or journal about what they are grateful for will allow them to reflect on the day and appreciate the things that they have.
10. Mirror play Playing in the mirror supports emotional development in children as they are able to get a grasp of who they are. Making faces together to mimic different emotions will help them to understand how to read people’s faces in order to tell how they are feeling.