After birth, when the mother holds her baby, it makes the child feel secure and comfortable; this is the first emotion a child feels. Also, each one of us feels emotions as we grow but understands them later in life. Thus, the death of a dear one, a breakup, monetary problems, loss of a job, or similar situations can be reasons for emotional turmoil. However, if such emotions are left unchecked, it may lead to destructive emotional buildup in a person. So it is necessary how we balance and regulate our feelings at every stage of our lives.
Emotional regulation is the way we balance our emotional environment for survival. It needs active and systematic management of the feelings so that we can adequately achieve our goals. Each one of us needs support and training throughout our lifespan to teach these skills. As Aristotle stated, “to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way” is a rare skill. This skill is achieved over time with the interplay of elements like emotional intelligence, maturity, experience, etc.
In Early Childhood ( Birth - 6 years )
The child babbles, usually either cries or smiles to express themselves. In the early years, their language is non-verbal, and speech starts to develop in later stages, which helps them express themselves. The best way to evoke their communication skills is to engage with them by spending time with them. Therefore, children learn from the environment in which they grew up, elucidating the nature vs. nurture perspective of development.
In Middle Childhood ( 7 years - 12 years )
The imagination skills are good, and they become more expressive about their feelings. We must encourage the child to share whatever they feel and experience. Since there is a gap between their understanding of the real world against their imaginary world, it may give rise to conflict. Thus, it makes them aggressive, anxious, and fearful, leading to total inhibition of emotional expression. Therefore, parents need to communicate with their children to help them understand and deal with such emotional challenges.
In Late Childhood (13 years - 19 years)
Their self-concept develops on their level of knowledge and logical abilities. Thus, they often search for their role in society and seek a sense of belongingness with peers, relatives, etc. G Stanley Hall called this stage the “storm and stress age,” in which children tend to develop different ideologies and oppose their parents. They can use various strategies to understand their child, which help them to regulate emotions, think rationally, socialize and develop their personality.
Daniel Goleman is a psychologist, author of a series of books related to emotional intelligence, self regulation, motivation, self awareness, empathy, social skills in daily life. According to him,
- Emotional Maturity is the ability to take responsibility for one’s actions, adapt to change, and respond appropriately to other people’s irrational emotions or behavior.
- Emotional Intelligence is one’s ability for self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, zeal, empathy, and social deftness.
Emotional maturity and intelligence result from the processes of emotional regulation through the early years of life. If children learn how to regulate their emotions properly, they will eventually become emotionally mature adults and have higher emotional intelligence. This way, emotional intelligence and emotional maturity help them lead happier and more fulfilling lives.