Ready for School ~ Emotional Health & Maturity

September 26, 2011

Emotional Health & Maturity is the ability to recognize and express both positive and negative emotions in ways that are healthy, respectful and appropriate to the situation. 

Children who are ready for school generally:

  • Offer to help others who are hurt, sick or upset
  • Invite bystanders to join in
  • Are happy and able to enjoy school
  • Separate easily from caregivers, mom and dad
  • Rarely behave aggressively
  • Do not have temper tantrums
  • Are not mean to others
  • Are able to concentrate and pay attention
  • Wait their turn
  • Think before doing something

Why is this important?   Children who are emotionally healthy and able to understand and get along well with others are children who are prepared to learn and succeed – at school and throughout life.

You are your child’s first teacher!  Here are some things you can do to encourage Emotional Health and Maturity in your preschooler:

Encourage your child to think before acting:

  • Talk about how to fix a problem or deal with a feeling.   For example “Sam broke his mom’s vase….what’s he going to do?”
  • Explain to your child how his actions may affect others
  • Prepare your child ahead of time for a new or stressful situation

Help your child learn socially acceptable behaviour:

  • Show how you deal with your emotions
  • When your child misbehaves, find a consequence that she understands, that matters to her and that is appropriate for the situation.
  • Give your child clear strategies for dealing with her emotions
  • Help your preschooler cope with tantrums.  Talk to her about what makes her feel better when she is angry or sad

Encourage your child to empathize with other people’s feelings:

  • Respond with empathy whenever your children are upset.
  • Read books that show how children or animals have a range of emotions
  • Ask your child what he thinks should be done when someone she knows needs comfort.  For example, “I think Grandma misses you and me.  Do you think we should call her?”

Help your child deal with powerful feelings:

  • Recognize and name your child’s emotions.  For instance “It’s okay to cry.  Can you tell me what’s making you sad?”
  • Help her talk about her feelings and comfort her when she is upset
  • Suggest ways to deal with feelings like “When you feel angry, come and get a grown up to help”
  • Watch for situations that might be stressful or make your preschooler feel bad

 Show attachment from the very first moments of life:

  • Show him he is loved no matter what
  • Tell him why he is so special

Show your child the importance of helping and getting along with others:

  • Let your child help with chores around the house.  Try wiping up spills, taking laundry out of a basket, or putting things away in a cupboard.