Let the children feel their emotions

Published On: December 19, 2020 07:40 AM NPT By: Usha Pokharel

As your children move from childhood to adolescence, they grow socially and emotionally in a natural way. If you notice anything that concerns you, address these issues right away.

I never liked watching television, except the Saturday morning cartoons while in the US. Recently, that has changed. Since the November elections in the US, I started watching CNN regularly. One day, I noticed an advertisement for a CNN documentary Prison & Prep School. It gave me a very different perspective regarding prisoners in the US. Every individual’s account regarding their early life gave an insight into their emotional development as a child that resulted in making the people they are now. That exercise also brought to light how their minds worked and what made them the way they were. This recounting went all the way down to the way they were raised. 

The inmates shared their feelings regarding the characters as they read the book and critiqued the characters. This simple act opened the dam of their feelings along with regrets towards their earlier behaviors. The inmates emphasized the need for an environment at home that provides social and emotional growth for children. Some of them related incidents from their childhood that they believed contributed to their later behavior. They further emphasized the importance of the social/emotional development of a child. Now you must be thinking, what is social and emotional development in a child?

Understanding emotions

 It is not very difficult to understand if we put our minds to it. We all have helped our children with social and emotional development. This development means how our children understand who they are, what they are feeling, and what to expect when interacting with others. This development enables children to form and sustain positive relationships, experience, manage and express emotions. It also helps them explore and engage with the environment.

 Parents need to understand that positive social and emotional development is very important for a child. It influences a child’s self-confidence, empathy, along with the ability to develop meaningful and lasting friendships and partnerships. It also influences a child’s sense of importance and value to those around him/her. This development is important because it also influences all other areas of development. After having understood the importance of social and emotional development in their children, parents and caregivers need to understand that they play a role in social and emotional development in their children. That is because they offer the most consistent relationships for their children.

Experiences with family members, teachers and other adults help children learn about relationships and explore emotions in predictable interactions. It is important to note that emotional development, the emergence of experience, expression, understanding, and regulation of emotions take place from birth, and there are gradual growth and change in these capacities throughout childhood, adolescence and adulthood.  

 You must be thinking what these social and emotional skills are. Some examples include a display of self-control, expression of feelings with words, listening and paying attention, feeling a sense of pride in accomplishments, having a positive self-image, asking for help when needed, showing affection to familiar people, and being aware of other people’s feelings. Now that you know the examples of social and emotional development next is what to do to promote them in your child.

What parents can do  

 Parents and caregivers can help their children’s social and emotional development by loving their children and showing affection for them. Hug them, cuddle them, read to and with them and talk to them throughout the day. Encourage your children to try new things. Provide your children with enough opportunities to play with other children their age. Let them see your feelings and also acknowledge their feelings. There is no difference between boys and girls while they express their feelings. Always avoid expressions like boys do not cry, or crying is for girls, or even grownups do not cry. Never encourage your children to express their anger toward other people. Discourage your children from seeking revenge. Also, establish daily routines. 

 It is interesting to note that as children get older and have more social interactions, their knowledge of emotions also increases. They also get better at emotional regulation: the ability to control their emotional response and show empathy. Parents need to understand that during childhood development, the frontal part of a child’s brain is responsible for processing and thinking of their emotions.

 According to experts, play is vital for a child's emotional development, the emergence of their experience, expression, and understanding. Pretend play and group play contribute to children learning to express and understand their own and other children's feelings. It is necessary for parents to learn about their children's needs and take a proactive stance to help your children form strong friendships and learn to process his/her emotions healthily. One way to go about encouraging positive development is to pay attention to your child's interactions with others and his/her emotional responses to stress. At the same time, learning about your children's needs and taking a proactive stance can help your children form strong friendships and learn to process their emotions in healthy ways.

 To be proactive, you also need to know some signs of emotional immaturity to help your children. Some such signs are: They will not go deep into a conversation. They will skim the surface of topics without revealing much and will not connect with you on a deeper level because they cannot make sense of their feelings.

Everything is about them. They will always bring in the “me factor” at inappropriate times. They may have a hard time understanding that the world does not revolve around them. If you bring something up, they will get overly defensive. They have commitment issues. They will avoid planning things together because they are afraid of limiting their freedom. They feel more alone than ever. Bonding or connecting with others becomes stunted because they feel a lack of support, understanding and respect.

You need to understand that emotional immaturity does not mean things will not work out. One of the simplest things you can do is to talk to your child. You can let your child know how his/her behavior is affecting you by using “I” statements and then proposing workable solutions. Such action trains their brain to respond and not react out of anger or frustration. Help create healthy boundaries. Make them self-aware of their comfort level. Help them identify situations that make them feel hurt, uneasy or angry. Communicate with your child. Make them understand that there are certain things you will not tolerate, like being shouted at or lied to. Follow through on what you say. No exceptions. Sometimes you might have to take a stand during temper tantrums, clarifying that you will talk to them once they are ready to discuss things maturely.

Finally, as your children move from childhood to adolescence, they grow socially and emotionally in a natural way. If you notice anything that concerns you, address these issues right away. This can ensure that your children develop in the healthiest way possible. You have always been proactive, so far as your children are concerned.

So, this is not a big deal for you. Right, parents?

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