With social-emotional development comes a child's ability to understand the feelings of others, control their own feelings and behaviours, and get along with peers. Basic social-emotional skills to acquire include cooperation, following directions, demonstrating self-control and paying attention. A child’s positive relationship with trusting and caring adults is the key to successful emotional and social development.
Children at this age are less fearful because of their increased understanding of the world. Although they want to play with other children and may form some friendships, their important emotional life remains inside the home.
Many six- year-olds naturally expect others to be as interested in them as they are. However , they do show an increasing ability to feel sympathetic to others. They are proud of their accomplishments and want to share their work, physical abilities and other achievements that they feel make them stand out.
At the same time, they may feel insecure and want praise. Much of this insecurity stems from their step toward independence. Six-year-olds may have a strong desire to perform well and do things right. They want to fit in and long for their friends to approve of the things they do. Some of them may have a hard time accepting criticism or failure.
Each child responds to this pressure in his own way. Some children may express anger and jealousy physically while others become bossy or teary. There are also those who just need to get away and be alone.
WHAT YOU CAN DO?
Encourage sharing and empathy. Acknowledge the accuracy of his observations of people and situations around him. Talk to him about local news and the plight of people in those stories.
Take a positive approach. Words can be supportive or destructive, so choose your words carefully. Strive to end your sentences with a positive statement. When giving instructions to your child, for example, say “Please stay on the pavement” instead of “Don’t walk on the grass”. Demonstrate your love and affection through actions as well as words. By using positive words, you are reassuring your child and nurturing his self-esteem.
Give your child some space. It is alright for him to be “little” every now and then, as it is hard to work on being “big” all the time. Boost your child’s confidence with lots of positive attention for good behaviours. Show him how to express his feelings in socially acceptable ways.
Encourage your child to express his feelings and why he is feeling this way Introduce complex language. This will help your child understand his feelings and their causes, for example, “I really want to try climbing on that structure but I’m sort of scared too.”
Help your child set achievable goals. Let him learn to take pride in himself and rely less on approval or reward from others. You can also boost your child’s confidence by concentrating on his special strengths.
Encourage his sense of accomplishment. Give him small tasks to do around the house or provide him with opportunities to demonstrate his skills in building models, cooking, making crafts, helping with jobs in the house or practising a musical instrument.
Give verbal and or visual encouragement. Make the praise specific to things he has done, for example, instead of saying “Great job”, say “It is wonderful how you waited for your friend to be done with the toy before you played with it”. You can also use the thumbs up signal.
Have predictable routines. These include night time rituals, after-school activities and regular play dates; these regular activities and relationships will provide the security he needs when he encounters unfamiliar challenges and experiences.
Spend one-on-one time with your child each day. This is especially important if he spends a considerable amount of time outside home, he will miss your company and his new friendships would not fill that gap.