Monday, September 13, 2010

Child’s Journey to Emotional Maturity Part.XII

The child’s first ideas about emotions were undistilled collections of everything she knew about a particular feeling. Her own experiences with feeling sad were mixed with everything that she could observe when she sensed that her mother was feeling unhappy. It is only with time and experience that the child learns to distinguish between its own feelings and those of someone else. The same sense of “me” and “you” that helps the child accept limits enables her for the first time, at the age of three or four, to feel empathy or compassionate love. Now, when the child sees her mother sad, she may try to help with a special hug or a handful of flowers.
The preschooler’s awareness of other people’s feelings is part of a growing ability to categorize her experiences. Increasingly she can perceive grown up distinctions between self and other animate and inanimate, right and wrong real and make believe yesterday and today. Once she has grasped the distinction between yesterday and today her first understanding of the concept of time patience will follow, for she now can appreciate the promise of future rewards.
The result of these developments is a set of skills that will be central to the child’s social and emotional adjustment throughout the coming years. These are the skills that will enable her to focus her attention and follow rules in school to distinguish between reality and fantasy in play, to plan a course of action and work toward a future goal in a job, and to consider the feelings and needs of those who share her life. Although her emotional abilities will continue to grow and change well into adulthood, the foundations are firmly laid by kinder garden age.
As you observe your child’s progress, remember that the path will not be entirely linear. There are bound to be some slips, some fits and start. Particularly when your child is learning something new, he may regress in other areas that he has long since mastered. By the age of five, your child will be standing on his own emotionally equipped to march off to school and take his place in world of other people. Like many accomplishments in life, the end of this journey is only a good beginning.