Middle childhood is a stage in child development which is marked with pronounced emotional development. While emotional upsurges may occurs on occasional basis, children in middle childhood stage are able to communicate their emotions and feelings verbally rather than physical actions. Children at this young stage are able to read feelings and emotions of others and respond appropriately through expressing affection towards others in times of need.This is normally expressed through consoling other by giving them hugs and kisses (Florez, 2011). This actions demonstrates empathy development in the middle childhood.
Temperament, which is a child’s natural outlook towards reactivity, plays a significant role in child’s ability to master emotional regulation skills (Lengua, 2003). For example, child’s temperament, which leads to labelling such as “difficult personality” or “easy personality”, has been shown to forecast children’s ability to express pro-social skills (Lengua, 2003). Also, temperament aspects in a child significantly determines how others responds to the child, which consequently affects the child’s ability to emotionally self-regulate (Hirshfeld-Becker et al, 2007).
There are several tips which can be used by guardians or parents to help promote emotional self-regulation in the middle childhood. First, guardians and parents can use modelling process to develop self-regulation in middle childhood. They should always act as role models in the manner in which they handle their emotions. In most cases, children learn how to handle certain situations through observing how the adults conduct themselves (Hirshfeld-Becker et al, 2007). Therefore, it is vital for the adults to maintain calmness when in frustrating situations such as traffic jam.
Secondly, providing a child with a calming space, where a child can collect his/her thoughts after an upsetting situation is an effective approach that can be used to enforce emotional self-regulation skills. Ideally, the space should be a positive environment where a child can recollect his/her thoughts without necessarily being punished.
Thirdly, parents or caregivers can encourage a child to attain positive emotional self-regulation through positive motivational approach (Florez, 2011). This may include rewarding and praising a child for good behavior. Lastly, parents or guardians can ask relevant question in order to help a child develop positive emotional self-regulation. However, the questions should be framed in friendly manner in order to facilitate effective communication between the two.
Strong emotional self-regulation skills are essential for empathy (Florez, 2011). Therefore, parents and guardians should make use of behavioral strategies in order to assist children who are struggling with self-regulation. One of the approach that can be used is vicarious learning. For example, a parent or guardian can give a specific public approval to other youngsters other than the targeted child when they show good behavior. By doing this, the targeted child is compelled to portray good behavior in order to get appreciations.
Also, parents or guardians can use over-correction approach to instil good emotional self-regulation (Lengua, 2003). In this approach, child is required to repetitively practice a particular skill in order to improve or replace inappropriate behavior. For example, a child can be obliged to apologize every time he/she wrongs others until it become a culture.
Florez, I. (2011). Developing young children’s self-regulation through everyday experiences. National association for the education of young children (NAEYC).
Hirshfeld-Becker, D. R., Biederman, J., Henin, A., Faraone, S. V., Davis, S., Harrington, K., & Rosenbaum, J. F. (2007). Behavioral inhibition in preschool children at risk is a specific predictor of middle childhood social anxiety: a five-year follow-up. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 28(3), 225-233.
Lengua, L. J. (2003). Associations among emotionality, self-regulation, adjustment problems, and positive adjustment in middle childhood. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24(5), 595-618.