Extract from my new book published today :What does a child need to be emotionally healthy?

In order for children to achieve success at school they need a degree of healthy emotional and social development so that they are emotionally ready and able to learn. The key issues for children aged 3-5 years is their ability to separate easily from their parent and adjust to being at school, which is strongly affected by their attachment and the security of the relationship they have with them. They need to be able to deal with this separation in order to be able to manage the school day and all it entails. Managing the school day includes having a sense of confidence, self-esteem, self-reliance and independence appropriate to their age, along with the ability to be able to manage change and unpredictability without it eroding their feelings of safety and security. They also need to have the social skills to develop, build and sustain relationships with both adults and children and to be able to ask for help when they need it. How many children start school equipped with all the skills to be able to do this?

The experience of being emotionally healthy is achieved by a combination of all these skills together and not in isolation, in the same way as a child’s ability to hold a pencil is dependent on their hand eye co-ordination and manipulative skills. It is the cumulative effect of the child’s experiences, learnt behaviours and reactions to events that help define their sense of self and their ability to deal with situations both in and out of school. Children need information and explanations about what is happening in order for them to be able to make sense of their experiences.

A child’s social and emotional development is a crucial foundation and provides them with a sense of themselves and enables them to establish quality relationships with other people. A strong social and emotional foundation will enable a child to connect with others, resolve conflicts, achieve success and experience happiness in life.

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