The study of the emotional development of infants and children although relatively new questions the idea as to whether emotional development is learned, predetermined or a combination of both. Emotional development can be defined as the process of building self-esteem, self-awareness and self-confidence as well as recognizing and understanding various feelings and emotions. It is the expressing of pleasure, surprise, interest and forms of distress which is an active continuous process.
Helping children discover, develop and work through the various stages of emotional development in a positive fashion will enable them to persist in reaching goals and facing difficulties with confidence. Emotional development unlike other developmental skills is not always as noticeable because a child’s feelings and emotional experiences are generally private.
However, as parents learn to recognize and read attitudes, facial expressions, body language, etc. that their child expresses, it can give them a better understanding of what is going on in their child’s world.
Parents who show warmth, compassion, understanding, and a genuine concern to help others will produce children who will learn to show empathy and positive behavior during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. But on the other side of the coin, parents who model cold, selfish, angry, punitive, emotional responses will produce children that will struggle with being empathetic and lack positive social behavior.
A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics reveals that a child’s imagination also plays a vital part in the area of emotional development. The article states, “Imagination is an adaptive psychological function of emotional significance”.
Imaginative play provides a world where children can express various emotions which actually aids in building future positive realities.
Playing is the most natural and productive way that children grow and learn. Educational toys can be a great asset to the emotional development of children. Many have a unique design specifically targeted at early childhood education and development. The benefits that parents should look for when searching for toys that will aid in the emotional developments of their children are toys that will promote relationship building (children interacting in a positive way with other children) provide challenges for their child to work through, create an environment of problem solving or stimulate imaginative play. These areas of play can help build self-confidence and self-esteem in children.
Parents are the key to their child’s emotional development. No matter if you have one child, or many children, all children need a sense of comfort, safety, love, confidence and encouragement. Teach your children how to build strong positive relationships, help them to develop empathy, compassion as well as a sense of right and wrong. Show them how to solve problems and deal with challenges in a positive manner and most important, encourage, encourage, encourage.