Young children who exhibit healthy social, emotional, and behavioral adjustment are more likely to have good academic performance in elementary school Cohen and others ; Zero to Three The sharp distinction between cognition and emotion that has historically been made may be more of an artifact of scholarship than it is representative of the way these processes occur in the brain Barrett and others This recent research strengthens the view that early childhood programs support later positive learning outcomes in all domains by maintaining a focus on the promotion of healthy social emotional development National Scientific Council on the Developing Child ; Raver ; Shonkoff Infants as young as three months of age have been shown to be able to discriminate between the faces of unfamiliar adults Barrera and Maurer The foundations that describe Interactions with Adults and Relationships with Adults are interrelated.
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They jointly give a picture of healthy social-emotional development that is based in a supportive social environment established by adults. Children develop the ability to both respond to adults and engage with them first through predictable interactions in close relationships with parents or other caring adults at home and outside the home.
Children use and build upon the skills learned through close relationships to interact with less familiar adults in their lives. In interacting with adults, children engage in a wide variety of social exchanges such as establishing contact with a relative or engaging in storytelling with an infant care teacher.
Emotional intelligence: why it matters and how to teach it | Teacher Network | The Guardian
Quality in early childhood programs is, in large part, a function of the interactions that take place between the adults and children in those programs. How teachers interact with children is at the very heart of early childhood education Kontos and Wilcox-Herzog , Infants use relationships with adults in many ways: for reassurance that they are safe, for assistance in alleviating distress, for help with emotion regulation, and for social approval or encouragement. In early infancy children interact with each other using simple behaviors such as looking at or touching another child.
Interactions with peers provide the context for social learning and problem solving, including the experience of social exchanges, cooperation, turn-taking, and the demonstration of the beginning of empathy. Social interactions with peers also allow older infants to experiment with different roles in small groups and in different situations such as relating to familiar versus unfamiliar children. As noted, the foundations called Interactions with Adults, Relationships with Adults, Interactions with Peers, and Relationships with Peers are interrelated. Interactions are stepping-stones to relationships.
Burk , writes:. We, as teachers, need to facilitate the development of a psychologically safe environment that promotes positive social interaction. As children interact openly with their peers, they learn more about each other as individuals, and they begin building a history of interactions. Infants develop close relationships with children they know over a period of time, such as other children in the family child care setting or neighborhood. Relationships with peers provide young children with the opportunity to develop strong social connections. Infants often show a preference for playing and being with friends, as compared with peers with whom they do not have a relationship.
The three groups vary in the number of friendships, the stability of friendships, and the nature of interaction between friends for example, the extent to which they involve object exchange or verbal communication. Infants demonstrate this foundation in a number of ways. For example, they can respond to their names, point to their body parts when asked, or name members of their families.
Through an emerging understanding of other people in their social environment, children gain an understanding of their roles within their families and communities. They also become aware of their own preferences and characteristics and those of others. Self-efficacy is related to a sense of competency, which has been identified as a basic human need Connell For example, they pat a musical toy to make sounds come out. Even early in infancy, children express their emotions through facial expressions, vocalizations, and body language. The later ability to use words to express emotions gives young children a valuable tool in gaining the assistance or social support of others Saarni and others Both the understanding and expression of emotion are influenced by culture.
Some cultural groups appear to express certain emotions more often than other cultural groups Tsai, Levenson, and McCoy In addition, cultural groups vary by which particular emotions or emotional states they value Tsai, Knutson, and Fung Positive emotions appeal to social partners and seem to enable relationships to form, while problematic management or expression of negative emotions leads to difficulty in social relationships Denham and Weissberg The use of emotion-related words appears to be associated with how likable preschoolers are considered by their peers.
Children who use emotion-related words were found to be better-liked by their classmates Fabes and others Infants respond more positively to adult vocalizations that have a positive affective tone Fernald It appears likely that the experience of positive emotions is a particularly important contributor to emotional well-being and psychological health Fredrickson , ; Panksepp During the first three years of life, children begin to develop the capacity to experience the emotional or psychological state of another person Zahn-Waxler and Radke-Yarrow The concept of empathy reflects the social nature of emotion, as it links the feelings of two or more people Levenson and Ruef Since human life is relationship-based, one vitally important function of empathy over the life span is to strengthen social bonds Anderson and Keltner Research has shown a correlation between empathy and prosocial behavior Eisenberg In particular, prosocial behaviors, such as helping, sharing, and comforting or showing concern for others, illustrate the development of empathy Zahn-Waxler and others and how the experience of empathy is thought to be related to the development of moral behavior Eisenberg For example, those behaviors are modeled through caring interactions with others or through providing nurturance to the infant.
Emotional Competence as a Positive Youth Development Construct: A Conceptual Review
The relationships among teachers, between children and teachers, and among children are fostered with warm and caring interactions. The developing ability to regulate emotions has received increasing attention in the research literature Eisenberg, Champion, and Ma Researchers have generated various definitions of emotion regulation, and debate continues as to the most useful and appropriate way to define this concept Eisenberg and Spinrad As a construct, emotion regulation reflects the interrelationship of emotions, cognitions, and behaviors Bell and Wolfe Emotion regulation is influenced by culture and the historical era in which a person lives: cultural variability in regulation processes is significant Mesquita and Frijda Adults can provide positive role models of emotion regulation through their behavior and through the verbal and emotional support they offer children in managing their emotions.
Emotion regulation skills are important in part because they play a role in how well children are liked by peers and teachers and how socially competent they are perceived to be National Scientific Council on the Developing Child At kindergarten entry, children demonstrate broad variability in their ability to self-regulate National Research Council and Institute of Medicine As infants grow, they become increasingly able to exercise voluntary control over behavior such as waiting for needs to be met, inhibiting potentially hurtful behavior, and acting according to social expectations, including safety rules.
Group care settings provide many opportunities for children to practice their impulse-control skills. Peer interactions often offer natural opportunities for young children to practice impulse control, as they make progress in learning about cooperative play and sharing. Social understanding is particularly important because of the social nature of humans and human life, even in early infancy Wellman and Lagattuta Ainsworth, M. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. American Academy of Pediatrics. Edited by S. Shelov and R. New York: Bantam Books. Anderson, C.
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