Early childhood education

The crux of early childhood development

Early childhood is a crucial period of development for every child across societies. This is the period when the brain grows remarkably and the foundation of child’s development and learning is laid.
A growing body of scientific evidence tells us that emotional development begins early in life, and it is a critical aspect of the development of overall brain architecture. In this discussion, we only wish to highlight how childhood is the most important phase of emotional development in humans.
The development of abilities to experience and express different emotions starts among children soon after birth and childhood is typically marked by the development of capacity to cope with and manage a variety of emotions observed and displayed. Of course, the emotional development is concurrent with other developments such as learning the mother tongue, walking, running, playing.
To better structure the discussion on as complex a domain as emotional development, we present further details in the following points:
a. The emotional experiences of newborns and young infants mostly occur during interactions with care givers (such as feeding, comforting, and holding by the care givers). Infants display distress and cry when they are hungry, cold, wet, or in other ways uncomfortable, and they experience positive emotions when they are fed, soothed, and held.
b. Of course, the expression of emotions by children in the first couple of years of age is uninhibited and
‘natural’ and mostly overwhelming for them; parents must not take such expressions in ‘quantitative terms’.
c. Clearly, the nature and ‘quality’ of care giver is directly related to the kind of emotional development of children. For instance, positive, loving and thoughtful strokes by care giver will lead to positive emotional state of children.
d. More importantly, the emotional state of the children slowly and steadily gets embedded (hardwired) in the brain and tend to become the natural way of children.
e. It may be news to many that the emotional states of toddlers and pre-schoolers are much more complex, in a way. They depend on their emerging capacities to interpret their own personal experiences and understand what others are doing and thinking, as well as to interpret the nuances of how others respond to them. Poor appreciation of this emotional state of young children is a definite sign of poor parenting.
f. As they (and their brains) build on foundations that are established earlier, they mature and acquire a better understanding of a range of emotions.
g. They also become more capable of managing their feelings, which is one of the most challenging tasks of early childhood.
h. Over time, their emotional repertoire expands and may include more ‘sophisticated’ feelings such as pride, shame, guilt, and embarrassment — and
greatly impacts how children function as rightful members of the various groups at home or school.
i. Young children are capable of surprisingly deep and intense feelings of sadness (including depression), grief, anxiety, and anger (which can result in unmanageable aggression), in addition to the heights of joy and happiness for which they are better known.
j. Throughout the early childhood years, children develop increasing capacities to use language to communicate how they feel and to gain help without “melting down”, as well as to inhibit the expression of emotions that are inappropriate for a particular setting.
By the end of the preschool years, children who have acquired a strong emotional foundation have the capacity to anticipate, talk about, and use their awareness of their own and others’ feelings to better manage everyday social interactions.
We must mention that primary school is essentially a place of high social exchange. Unfortunately, poor parenting practices in early years leads to some children finding that the preschool years mark the beginning of enduring emotional difficulties and mental-health problems that may become more severe than earlier generations of adults.
The emotional health of young children — or the absence of it — is closely tied to the social and emotional characteristics of the environments in which they live in the early years, which include not only their parents but also
the broader context of their families and communities.
Importantly, as young children develop, their early emotional experiences literally become embedded in the architecture of their brains.
Emotional development acquires a particularly central place in these times of high social and personal stress and strain.

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