The emotional development of five-year-olds
In terms of child development, every sphere is important. Various stages are associated with each sphere. It is perfectly normal for children to demonstrate strengths in certain spheres and challenges in others. However, all child development spheres are interrelated; one sphere can influence another and vice versa. As early childhood educators, our goal is for children to reach kindergarten with as many success factors as possible. In this article, I would like to explore children's emotional development. Although it is much less tangible than fine motor or gross motor skills, emotional development remains extremely important. What can we expect from five-year-olds? How can we promote healthy emotional development?
If we were to attempt to define emotional development, we could say that it is the capacity to manifest and control different emotions. Emotional development is influenced by the conflictual experiences that exist between a child and his family and friends as well as any inner conflicts he may not express. A secure attachment between a child and his parents during his first years of life will also considerably influence his emotional development. Several studies have demonstrated that a strong secure attachment in early childhood helps children overcome certain challenges they will face later in life as well as help them develop relationships within their social environment. Although you have very little power over the parent-child attachment, many daily actions can help children develop harmoniously. First, let's look at what you can expect in terms of general emotional development in five-year-olds.
- They are better able to express aggression verbally (as opposed to physically).
- They have better control over their emotions.
- They can tolerate a certain delay before their needs are met.
- They can provide a sustained effort for a certain period to reach a goal.
- They identify more and more with the parent of the same gender, they develop common interests and similar methods.
- Slowly, they become more open to outsiders and accept the opinions of others, they progressively become less self-centered.
- They can evaluate their behaviour and, when applicable, admit it was inappropriate.
- They may begin to compromise, negotiate with others to find common ground.
- They enjoy working with others to reach a common goal and can listen to others when they express their opinion.
How can you support children's emotional development?
- Develop a bond with the children in your group. If they feel they can trust you, that you will be there if they need you, they will explore their environment confidently.
- Establish clear limits and rules. No matter their age, children need to know their limits to feel comfortable and explore. They must know exactly how far they can go, what is allowed, and what they absolutely may not do.
- Discuss with your group and explore a wide range of subjects. Circle time is very important. During meals, encourage spontaneous discussions and invite children to share their feelings, their likes and dislikes, to express their opinions, etc.
- Provide different tools to help children understand, express, and control their emotions. The use of visual aids can be very helpful. If necessary, guide them to help them take advantage of the tools you offer.
- Encourage children to make decisions as often as possible. Begin by offering two choices and slowly increase the number of options when you feel they are ready to manage more. Guide children whenever necessary.
- Use role play to explore different situations children may face and help them identify solutions.
- Give children various tasks and encourage autonomy. Progressively showing you have faith in their abilities will help build their self-confidence.
- Develop group projects and use them to encourage each child to share his ideas and accomplish different tasks to reach a common goal.
- Encourage children to be proud of their completed projects and tasks. Display their artwork, create portfolios, etc.
- Have children participate in workshops in small groups of 2 or 3 children. They will slowly learn to work with others, express their ideas, and compromise.
Maude Dubé, Specialized educator