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Setting Emotional Development Expectations for Kindergartners


Tips from Teachers

Insights and Ideas from Smart Love teachers and tutors on how to help your children have a successful school year!

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Emotional Development: Nurturing your child's emotional development is a key element to their success in school. When children have a stable emotional foundation they are better able to recover from the inevitable losses within a school day such as when something doesn't go their way. A strong emotional foundation is set through the parent and child relationship. To nurture a strong relationship with your kindergartner parents can spend time and connect with their kindergartner by playing and doing things that interests their child. It could be playing their favorite video game, baking cookies, going outside, or reading books together. Because young children put in a lot of effort and energy into learning and meeting teacher expectations each day, they often come home exhausted and can have a hard time managing their emotions. When children express big emotions, parents can name the feeling they are experiencing and let them know it's okay to have those kinds of feelings. It could sound something like, "I see you are really angry because you don't want to go to get off your iPad, thank you for sharing your feelings with me. It is time to take a bath now. After we turn off the iPad you can tell me what you’d like to have/play while you’re in the bath." If your kindergartner had a bad day and is expressing anger, frustration, sadness, or other unhappy emotions, it's important for parents to respond in a caring, patient, and kind manner. Your kindness and patience will communicate to them that they can turn to you when they need help, whether it be for a school test, issues with friends, or simply to share excitement about winning a game at school. Nurturing a relationship that allows for children to feel comfortable to come to you with all of their emotions gives them the bandwidth to be able to manage their emotions better at school.


Social Interactions with Peers: While infants and toddlers are solely focused on their parents attention, as children enter preschool and kindergarten they begin to experience the joys of friendships. Children learn how to make friends and how to be a friend through the relationship that parents model within their own parent/child relationship. The more patience and kindness that parents offer to their children, the more likely the child will be able to offer the same to their school friends. This could be expressed in being flexible when playing games during recess, sharing toys, or taking turns. Because friendships are new, kindergartners are still learning how to navigate social interactions, so hurt feelings may come and this is okay. The best way for parents to help their child feel better is by offering their unconditional kindness. When parents are able to offer patience and understanding to all of their child's emotions, this makes children feel and believe that they are lovable despite social conflict with peers.


Relationship with Teacher: Helping your child develop a positive relationship with their teacher starts with your relationship with your children at home. For many students, kindergarten is their first experience in a formal school setting. They may be away from their parents for the first time and they have to spend their day with a new caregiver - their teacher. Because young children idealize their teachers, kindergarteners look for their teacher's approval and attention. Kindergarten students may feel upset when they don't receive the amount of attention they desire and may act out in order to get their teacher's attention back. Parents may feel as though they should give their child less attention at home in order to help their child practice getting less attention at school, however, this approach doesn't address the root of the problem. When parents give their child as much attention and love as they can at home, children are able to take the feeling that they are abundantly loved and cared about into school and feel good about themselves even when their teacher is working with other students.

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