Emotional development and sense of self
A person’s sense of self is strongly inﬂuenced by their perception of themselves. Knowing that they can be successful at what they do allows children to feel competent and conﬁdent – which in turn affects their emotional development.
Children who don’t have many experiences of success, more often have to cope with disappointment, which can lead to development of a negative sense of self. By learning to value their own strengths and efforts, as well as those of others, children and young people develop resilience to bounce back from challenges and hardship.
You can support children and young people’s emotional development by showing understanding of their feelings and by offering encouragement and speciﬁc praise for their efforts.
How can you support emotional development in children and young people?
Providing effective support for children and young people’s emotional development starts with paying attention to their feelings and noticing how they manage them. Many schools and early learning services incorporate specific programs to teach social and emotional skills. These skills can also be taught and learned through everyday interactions.
Tune in to children and young people’s feelings and emotions
Some emotions are easily identiﬁed, while others are less obvious. Tuning into children and young people’s emotions involves looking at their body language, listening to what they are saying and how they are saying it, and observing their behaviour. This allows you to respond more effectively to children and young people’s needs and to offer more speciﬁc guidance to help them manage their emotions.
Help children and young people recognise and understand emotions
Talking to children and young people and teaching them about emotions helps them to become more aware of their own emotions as well as those of others.
Set limits on inappropriate expression of emotions
Let children and young people to know that it’s normal and OK to have a range of emotions and feelings. While acknowledging children and young people’s emotions, it’s also important to set limits on aggressive, unsafe or inappropriate behaviours.
Be a role model
Children and young people learn about emotions and how to express and manage them through their interactions and observations of watching others – especially family members and school staff. Showing children and young people the ways you understand and manage emotions helps them learn from your example. If you lose your temper, apologise and show how you might make amends.
Be You Professional Learning
Check out content on social and emotional learning (SEL) and teaching for resilience in the Learning Resilience domain.
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2004). Young children develop in an environment of relationships. Boston: Harvard University. Retrieved from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/wp1/.
Shonkoff, J.P., & Phillips, D.A. (2000). From neurons to neighbourhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington: National Academy Press.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) helps us understand and manage our emotions, set and achieve goals and feel good about ourselves.