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Emotional Development 

How Do Children Grow and Develop?

Children are faced with so many challenges nowadays: skyrocketing divorces, bullying anorexia and bulimia issues, more violence in the media, fast-paced lifestyles, greater stress levels and other factors. We need to provide children with the skills needed to manage their emotions both at home and at school. Emotional development happens in various stages but we can also help to develop these skills in addition to their natural progression.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to growing and maintaining a good relationship with both yourself and with others. A combination of competencies that enriches daily life and increases the ability to maintain relationships. It also promotes a more positive outlook on life.

Emotional Intelligence was made popular by Daniel Goleman in the mid 1990’s. By looking at the work of John Mayer and Peter Salovey, Goleman came up with five domains of EI:

  • Motivation
  • Relationship Awareness and Management
  • Self Awareness
  • Self Management

Kids have differing points in their emotional development. Happiness, sadness, and fear is noticeable by kids as young as four through nonverbal hints like facial expression and voice tone.

Emotional development is core in young children's bridge to becoming more independent. We can begin to grow young kids emotional literacy by ensuring they realize it is normal to have a variety of feelings. By explaining that every feeling has a purpose, being able to name feelings and learning to manage feelings well, children will become emotionally literate.

The ability to know and understand feelings, improves as we age. Kids in the five to eight age group are more interested in friendships and social sensibilities. Parents of children must realize the power of emotions and how it effects on retaining information learnt at school.

Textbooks and worksheets are not able to stimulate the numerous feelings in kids this age. Children want to explore real world ideas and do practical. Acting, hands-on activities, artistic endeavors and more can help develop the emotional connections to learning.

During the teen years, and even as early as the tweens, the emotional brain or the limbic brain is increasingly active. This age group are going through major alterations in both mind and body. Hormones are raging in kids this age and they must have social and emotional learning as a priority in schooling in order to prevent bad decisions that children might regret afterwards.

Developing emotional intelligence abilities in kids encourages them to manage conflict among peers, allowing for pleasing outcomes. Children may grow their abilities in self-motivation, stress management and optimism. Children can work cooperatively with friends and peers both inside and outside their classes.

Kids with higher emotional intelligence have the ability to show empathy towards others. This could be crucial in aiding other children with lower emotional intelligence levels. Skills like these can aid children on the journey to their teens and beyond. Learning at school to manage stress from early childhood is a precious gift. Emotional development must be an area that educators focus on as well as the academic side of school.

Research proves that classrooms that offer research based emotional intelligence programs have better academic achievement. If kids can learn to manage stressful emotions, have fruitful relationships with their peers and teachers and are intrinsically motivated. all of which are emotional intelligence skills then they are likely to achieve better academically. Most EI skills are able to be mixed into ordinary lessons and also taught explicitly. One way that both parents and teachers may implement is the reading of stories, called bibliotherapy.

Through books kids can relate to the characters. They may be having similar experiences and/or feelings as the characters. Modeling is a key way children learn. What we do and say in real life is an important clue to kids. It is vital we model to kids how we handle stress, how we react when we are mad, upset or fearful ...these will encompass the vital lessons for kids. Although emotional development, occurs at certain stages naturally we as parents and educators need to target these stages of development and encourage children to develop the emotional skills needed to face the world successfully.

Emotional Development

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