Emotional Development


It is important for you to look for emotional cues from your child so that you can support her in understanding her emotions.


Lucy and Krish begin to argue about which one of them should have the next turn with the Dr. Seuss book. Lucy begins to cry. Dad comes over and says, “Lucy and Krish, let’s take a deep breath together and talk this out. I am here to help you.”


This situation is creating a stressful moment for both of the children. If Dad had not intervened, the children would have started crying, aggression would have manifested itself (hitting), and everyone would be unhappy. It is not important to jump in right away when you see or hear your child expressing emotions, but it is a good idea when you hear problem solving descend into an argument that you intervene to help keep it from escalating into a bigger conflict.

Emotional development involves your child’s ability to control emotions, express verbally how she feels, have positive self-esteem, and feel that she can accomplish any task she sets her mind to.

Emotional well-being involves a child’s ability to understand the value of her emotions and what causes them. Having emotional well-being will enable your child to build happiness and self-esteem as well as coping abilities for emotions such as anger and sadness. Without strong emotional well-being your child will experience rejection, depression, mood swings, anxiety, and lack of appetite, and poor relationships will be formed.

Encourage your child to use more complex language to express her understanding of feelings and their causes (e.g. your child should say, “I want to try riding on that, but I’m scared.”)

Stress plays a big role in your child’s emotional development. When your child is always worried, anxious, scared, or unhappy, it affects her health and interactions with others.

Interact with your child affectionately, show consideration for her feelings, and express pride in her accomplishments. Give support in times of stress!

Relationships play a central role in fostering your child’s emotions of joy, fear, and anger. When your child has good emotional health, she feels good about herself and is better able to handle stress and engage in relationships. You play an important role in the emotional wellness of your child by providing support as she learns to control her emotions and form good relationships with family, friends, and community.

Do one of the following activities with your child at home to build your relationship:

1. Get into her space.
Your child spends a lot of time on the floor. You should be down there, too—playing games, pretending with dolls, building block forts. Work through your feelings of embarrassment and meet with your kids at their level. You might be surprised how fun it can be.

2. Enjoy family time.
Connect with your child by eating together as a family. This is a daily routine and is easy to do, even if it is just for 15 minutes. Talk about the day and how she felt about her day.

3. Do projects together.
Do a family project like cleaning up the garage or collecting recycling materials around the home. At this age you have a child who can and wants to be involved; you don’t have to do it all alone.

When you do things as a family and build a strong relationship with your child, this enables you to take time to really learn to read your child’s emotional cues so that you can help her identify her emotions. This can only occur when you stop what you’re doing, listen, and participate!