The previous article on children’s various learning styles would have led you to realise how unique your child is. Understanding your child’s learning style helps set the foundation on how you may teach your child. Cultivating good learning habits is also important in the process of helping your child learn better and succeed in preschool. Your parenting approach during your child’s formative years shapes his emotional development, which is essential in his ability to learn.
Parenting involves not only disciplining your child, but also teaching him how to manage/control his emotions. Experts have identified a parenting approach known as emotion coaching that can help children form secure attachments to their parents (please see box). Emotion coaching means helping children with their emotional development, first by helping them understand their emotions and second, for parents to react appropriately to those emotions. Here is how you can do this:
Talk with your child
Ask your child how he’s feeling and give him your full attention when he is speaking. Listen with empathy. Encourage him as he tries to identify and communicate his feelings to you. Help him along the way if necessary.
Be in tune with your child’s emotions
Know how your child is feeling by observing his body language, his facial expressions and listening to his tone of voice. By being sensitive to his cues, you are able to offer support and understanding when your child is sad, angry or frustrated and celebrate together when he is happy or excited.
Answer your child’s questions
Your curious preschooler will be asking you lots of questions. Always try your best to answer them. Do not be dismissive or tell him to stop bothering you with his questions. Doing so will only instill fear of asking questions and destroy his enthusiasm for learning. If you do not know the answer, take the time to find out together with your child.
When your child makes a mistake
Comfort your child by acknowledging his feelings after having made a mistake. Assure him that it is okay to feel bad about it. Help him clean up or rectify the mistake. This way, you provide him with a solution to the situation. Avoid scolding your child as this only causes him to become fearful. He does not learn how to rectify the problem and will soon repeat the same mistake, be scolded again and end up thinking he would never get it right.
While all feelings – good and bad – are acceptable, not all behaviours are acceptable. For instance, your child may be angry with his friend for scribbling in his book but that does not mean he can hit her. Make sure your child knows what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, and help him find solutions to his problems. Instead of hitting his friend, what could he have done?
Secure attachment refers to the emotional bond between the parent and child. A child who is securely attached to his parents will seek comfort from his parents, and is less likely to be distressed when he enters preschool. He is able to interact with his teachers, make friends and adapt to new environments easily. He has the perseverance to learn, is inquisitive and has the courage to ask questions and learn from his mistakes. As a result, he shows fewer behavioral problems and is able to resolve conflicts better. When he becomes an adult, he will possess a strong self-esteem, have trusting long-term relationships and will easily be able to share his feelings with others.