This month, let’s take a closer look at the Social-Emotional Domain, focusing specifically on the emotional development.
Emotional development begins with learning to identify and express our own feelings. When we can acknowledge and accept our feelings, we can learn to manage them and to recognize what other people may be feeling. This is the foundation of self-control and empathy, both so critical to the successful functioning of our society.
We can support children’s emotional development by giving them the words to describe their feelings and modeling self-awareness, acceptance, and empathy. Children need our help to figure out how to understand and manage emotions.
Here are some great ways for you to promote Emotional Development at home:
- Talk to your baby about how he or she is feeling. Change your tone, facial expressions, and enthusiasm depending on the emotions your baby is expressing.
- Model empathy by talking gently to, and holding your baby, when she or he is upset.
- Hold a doll or stuffed animal in front of your baby. Say something like, “Baby doll is happy to see you!” Talk to your baby using different tones of voice and facial expressions, such as a surprised, happy, silly, or sad face. Observe how your baby reacts to different expressions and voice tones.
- Help your child describe how she or he is feeling by giving them precise words. For example, “You look like you are frustrated right now because you want to play with your favorite toy.”
- While reading to your child, describe what the characters are feeling. Demonstrate the emotion through your tone of voice and facial expression. For example, while reading Are You My Mother?, you can say, “Look how happy the baby bird is here!”
- Snuggle with your child while looking at family pictures together. Ask your child to tell you what is happening in the picture and to describe what each person is feeling. Again, you may need to help her or him find the precise words they need, for example, “Yes, everyone looks happy, but you and your cousin look really excited. Remember you were about to go on the boat!”
- When reading with your child, talk about the emotions a character is experiencing. Ask why they think the character feels that way.
- If your child is angry or sad, encourage them to talk about why they are feeling this way. Talk about how you make yourself feel better when you are upset. This helps your child know that everyone feels upset sometimes and that there are ways we can make ourselves feel better. For example, you can encourage your child to hold a favorite toy, take some deep breaths, or count to 10 when they are upset.
- Start having conversations with your child about how their behavior can make other people feel happy, sad, or angry. Explain that they can tell how people feel by their facial expressions, tone of voice, or actions. Practice strategies for recognizing emotions with your child.
- Participate in yoga with your child. Breathing exercises and focused movement helps us feel more calm and peaceful.
- Talk to your child regularly about their emotions. Encourage them to identify what they are feeling, some reasons why they might be feeling this way, and what, if anything, they can do to manage those emotions.
- If a friend or family member is upset, encourage your child to develop a plan to help this person feel better. This could involve fixing whatever is making them upset, or simply doing something your child knows this person enjoys or appreciates.
Here’s a great resource about how to support Emotional Development at home:
Next month, we’ll focus on Social Development.
Miss the first article in our series? Read it here.