What is your emotional state like at the moment

Encouraging emotional development in children: From the jumble of emotions

From Susanne Egert.

Emotions have great power. Anyone who knows how to classify them lives easier. | © Pixabay

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"Are we there soon?" All parents know this sentence. It usually comes from the back seat of the car, about 15 minutes after the start of the journey. It is repeated at random intervals, usually shorter as the journey increases. So long until the goal has been achieved. Parents are usually (understandably) annoyed by this and report this to the source of the anger just as clearly as unsuccessfully: "You're annoying!" or "Stop annoying!"

Feelings are the key to having a child

If we want to find out what is happening here and - at least as interestingly - how we can do something about it, we have to ask ourselves how that Situation from the child's point of view. More precisely, how the child is now feels. Because feelings are the reason why people do or don't do something.

In the example described above, the case seems to be clear: "The child is bored!" And yes, you are right, the child is bored. In addition, one can also state that the child does not want to annoy or annoy the parents to do it not with intent or malice, but with a feeling of the child that is uncomfortable for himself and that he can often not yet properly classify.

So it tries to get rid of this unpleasant feeling, which it is more or less aware of depending on age - by asking “When will we be there soon?”. This also works for a moment, because at least there is a short 'conversation' with mom or dad, which only interrupts the boredom for a tiny moment.

We saw at the beginning how things will continue. Result: Parents and children are at the end of their nerves, the mood is below zero and both 'parties' are wondering whether the other side is also nice and easy to care for ... But it can also be done differently and more pleasantly for both sides , also development-promoting for the child:

This is how parents can encourage emotional development in children

Reflect children's feelings

Just tell the child how you feel in him, what you believe or how he is feeling right now. So in our example: "You are bored." But maybe also: "You are already very excited, you are really happy." or "You are worried that ...", "You fear that ...".

That sounds strange at first, but it helps the child to sort and process their own feelings. After all, children do not come into the world knowing what feelings there are and how they feel.

Incidentally, that is too the reason young children often have "stomach aches", no matter where it hurts and how you feel in detail. You must first learn that the grumbling in your stomach is excitement and the pressure on your chest is fear. In many cases this is enough to process a feeling: we accept the feeling as it is and it dissolves.

So you don't always need a solid solution or action. Incidentally, no one can always shake a suitable solution up his sleeve. Parents shouldn't put themselves under pressure.

Secure attachment for optimal emotional development

"Does my child understand that when I speak to him like that?" You may be asking yourself. Well, it has been found that when mothers of infants (!) Were able to appropriately address their baby's emotional states, e.g. , does your tummy hurt? " "Yes, you are happy, my darling, bunny (or which animal species you prefer ...)", then a secure bond was predicted. A secure bond is something like basic trust and a essential protective factor for mental health. Although it is proven that the babies do not yet understand literally what the mother is saying, it has a positive effect on the child.

From the beginning, children have all kinds of feelings. By 'mirroring' the child's feelings, we help the child to perceive their own feelings, to distinguish them, to put them into words and to process them.

In doing so, we also lay the foundation for the child to learn to control their emotions when it makes sense. For example, not having tantrums all the time when something doesn't go as planned.

Emotional competence needs to be trained

At the same time, however, by responding to the feelings, certain brain cells are also trained, which enable us to develop compassion in the first place. We all have these so-called mirror neurons at birth, but they have to be trained further, otherwise they will disappear.The mirror neurons not only make it possible to empathize with other people, they are also the prerequisite for us to learn about them by observing other people so can imitate.

Parents are role models when it comes to feelings

Children also learn from their parents how to deal with feelings. Because: What the parents do cannot be wrong. Parents therefore have a very strong influence on the behavior of their children through what they set an example for them. How do they go B. deal with disappointment or dissatisfaction? Lose yourself or say, “I'll just try again!” Of course you can be angry from time to time, that's completely normal. But how should parents react when their child has a tantrum?

Taking children's feelings seriously to encourage emotional development

No matter what feeling it is and no matter whether the parents can relate to the feeling or whether they would feel completely different if they were with the child, Parents should always accept the child's feeling like thisas it is; there is no right or wrong in feelings.

And feelings cannot be talked out or talked away. Have you ever replied to a sentence like “You don't have to be afraid” or “You don't have to be sad”: “Oh, well then it's good!”? Strong wishes can influence things in our favor, but in most cases this will not work ...Feelings are just there and we have to accept it like this first. Anything else would be a reaction like a small child who holds its hands in front of its eyes and says: "I'm not there!"

Parents don't have to accept everything that the child does does

This Difference between feelings and behavior is very important! Parents can certainly understand that a child is jealous of the new sibling who 'steals' so much time from their mothers. Still, of course, one cannot approve of the baby's pinching. We can also accept that a child loved playing with their new friend and forgetting about the time because they were so fascinated. But that does not mean that we are okay with his being late.

Adopt the children's point of view

So that parents can understand their child, they should first find out what the world looks like from their point of view. This opens up a lot that at first seems strange, puzzling and incomprehensible to parents. Children have a different mindset as adults.

Small children sometimes rhyme together something that adults don't necessarily think of. The younger they are, the more they believe that everything in the world happens because of them. This is also the reason why children - even if they do not say so - often believe that their parents have split up because they are so 'naughty, stupid, not very lovable'.

This egocentric worldview has nothing to do with overconfidence, but is developmental. Children only gradually learn to empathize with other people. Parents can encourage the children to think about how someone else might feel, in a story, a picture book, a film or while playing with hand puppets, play figures, dolls or while dressing up. In this way, too, they promote the emotional development of their children.

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Your Susanne Egert

About Susanne Egert

© Susanne EgertSusanne Egert is a psychological psychotherapist, behavioral therapist and EMDR therapist. She has been working in a large youth welfare facility for many years, is the author of the Rendsburg parent training and the Rendsburg teacher training and, among other things, has written the book “Help educate successfully. Parents work in youth welfare, daycare and school. A practical guide ”written. It also trains specialists nationwide in Rendsburg parent training, Rendsburg teacher training and other topics.

Through her many years of professional activity, she knows that many conflicts between parents, children and teachers are based on a lack of understanding for each other. “I want to help parents and children understand each other better and thereby make their lives a little easier,” says the psychotherapist.

Susanne Egert has been a member of scoyo's advisory board since 2015.

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