There are many things to stress over when it comes to parenting a young child. Learning academic skills, the ABC’s and 123’s, is of course crucial. However, there is so much more that goes into child development. We need children to be confident, kind, curious, and comfortable in their own skin. Parenting should focus on raising children who are capable of showing love and compassion. The goal should be to raise children who empathize with their neighbors, lend helping hands, and children who are emotionally stable and secure. But, how do we do this? How do we raise kids who care? It all starts with strong emotional support and the development of emotional understanding from a young age. There are many things to take into consideration when dealing with the emotional development of children.
Rule Number 1: Be impeccably accepting of your child.
There is a strong underlying nature within children, their innate personality, that cannot, and should not be changed. Recognize that their underlying personalities are a part of who they are and embrace this. Support them through the more difficult times as they figure out their emotions and their personalities but do your best not to change who they are. Now, there are certain behaviors that are unacceptable and do need to be redirected. But, we can teach children how to handle their emotions and teach them to accept certain feelings, process them, and react appropriately.
Rule Number 2: The second rule of emotional development is to acknowledge children’s emotions.
When children are sad, mad, angry or scared, acknowledge how they’re feeling. Ask them how they’re feeling or ask them to confirm your assumption. A lot of adults cry when they’re angry. We typically assume that tears equal sadness, but this isn’t always the case. It is important that while we are trying to decipher the emotions that kids are experiencing, we should also confirm them before moving forward.
Rule Number 3: Let children rest with their emotions rather than trying to fix their feelings.
It is almost second nature to say “aww you’re okay” to a crying or upset child. But to them, at that moment they are not okay, and hearing an adult tell them that they are okay is essentially dismissing their emotions and feelings. Reassurance is a much more effective approach. Explain to children that it is OKAY to feel sad and that you may be able to help them feel better. Encourage and allow them to embrace their emotions. Support them through what they’re feeling and allow them to rest there for a while if needed.
Childhood is the most acceptable phase in life to show you raw, intense emotions. We see it on Monday mornings when children are crying at the start of a new week; as adults, we probably don’t feel much different, but there comes a point when it is unacceptable to walk into the office crying that the weekend is over. Again, our goal is to coach children to experience their emotions so that they are not the adult having a meltdown. It is also crucial to be kind and patient with them as they work through their intense childhood emotions.
Rule Number 4: Allow your kids to see you experience different emotions.
Life is hard, life is beautiful, life is chaotic, and we are biologically programmed to feel things to our core. It is a disservice to our children to have them think that once they become adults, all of those powerful emotions just evaporate.
Let children see you get frustrated and explain that you’re feeling frustrated and let them observe how you work through your feelings. Teaching kids to be kind to themselves results in their ability to be kind, caring and empathetic towards others.
Rule Number 5: Teach children about different feelings.
Aside from the standard happy, sad, mad, etc. teach them that there are deeper emotions and feelings. Emotions come in such a wide variety. A large reason for tantrums is that children are unable to express their feeling when faced with an unfamiliar emotion. When parenting through emotional situations, keep in mind that while the things we feel are second nature to us, they may be brand new to children. Work through things with them, offer support, understanding, and encouragement.
While focusing on emotional support with children, remember that emotions happen on multiple levels. Things are not always as they seem, and it is important to recognize that we experience both primary and secondary emotions. Primary emotions are the immediate reaction we feel to a situation. Someone says something hurtful and we feel sad. A secondary emotion comes when we feel an emotion about an emotion. For example, a child has an accident and feels embarrassed and they’re suddenly yelling and stomping their feet, appearing very angry. They are responding to the feeling of embarrassment. Addressing the anger would be similar to painting over a damaged wall. You may not be able to see it, but the underlying problem is still there.
Talk with your child and listen to them, try to get to the root of what they’re feeling but most importantly and above all things show them understanding. We cannot control our emotions. Children cannot turn it off any easier than we as adults can turn it off. Our main responsibility is to teach them how to handle the emotions as they come their way. Embrace your child, love your child and be proud of who they are.
How can Roybi Robot help parents with raising emotionally secure children?
Roybi Robot provides children with the interactions they need. As noted in our previous post, Robots also help children build self-efficacy, resulting in a stronger foundation for emotional, and academic development.
Children need to be able to experience emotions in the most non-judgmental setting, without fear of rejection or ridicule. Parents and adults develop rules for how they view various emotional expressions. These rules are then passed on to children, often unintentionally, and they create filtered views as to which emotions are appropriate and how to handle them. Children may find that the rules they’ve been naturally conditioned to follow do not meet how they’re feeling.
When children interact with robots, they are able to feel and experience their raw emotions and work through them, developing their own set of rules for how they feel and how to best handle these emotions. They’re able to experience things, without judgment or the reaction of another person’s emotions clouding their feelings.
Emotional development is at the forefront of many early education practices. The focus is beginning to shift to mindful practices, social-emotional education, sensory development, and other whole child practices. Through the integration of AI and robotics, early educators and parents alike can exponentially foster healthy emotional development.