Emotional competence: Development and intervention
To adapt to the challenges facing them, young children must become increasingly emotionally competent with development. Possessing emotional competence is an essential feature of wellbeing and good social integration; helping us to act and react appropriately in a wide range of situations. Some emotional responses and the situations to which they relate are basic to human experience; such as feeling angry when we are aggressed, or feeling scared when we are in danger. Other responses, which are also fundamental to human experience, seem to lie at the heart of our social existence; such as the emotions we feel that are more appropriate tO another person's condition (empathy) or the feelings of attachment that we have for others, which can provoke in us strong feelings of love and affiliation, or terrible feelings of loss. Of course, the emotional challenges facing children on a day-to-day basis are, thankfully, generally less extreme in their nature but they are nonetheless central to the child's feelings of wellbeing and growing sense of autonomy and independence. For example, children must regulate their many anxieties during school, whether interpersonal or performance related, and learn to recognize and respond to a host of complicated socio-emotional situations; they must also learn to express gratitude when receiving a disappointing gift and to understand the origins and consequences of other children's feelings, to which they must respond in a prosocial manner, and so on (see Denham et al. 2003, Harris 1989, Pons et al. 2005,Saarni 1999 for reviews).
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