Behavior

Liberty & Expression for Children

If you were to ask your fellow colleagues or the parents of students in your class, ‘what is liberty?’, you would probably receive a different selection of responses. However, you should hopefully receive a general response that liberty relates to freedom and an individual’s liberty is their power to do as they please without oppressive restrictions.

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Studies show that healthy emotional and social grooming during early childhood has lasting effects on a child’s future behavior and attitude, performance in education, career path, as well as life decisions.

Liberty can be a difficult concept to understand for some adults, and especially for children. This raises the questions, ‘why is liberty important for children to understand and ‘how do we help them understand it?’ We’ll also cover why children need to express their feelings to grow.

When should a child begin to learn about liberty?

It is never too early to begin to teach students in your class about liberty as it will help them form a basic understanding of some of the concepts they will learn about in more detail in their social studies, politics and history classes.

If you teach children at an older age, it is essential they understand what liberty is, not only because it will be a recurring theme in their studies but because any employer will expect their employees to have a basic understanding of liberty and how America is run as a nation.

Why is liberty important for children to understand?

Aside from its academic benefits, it is important for children to understand what liberty is because liberty is important for the future of America. It is important that children are not only thankful for their liberty but understand how it was earned and how it needs to be maintained.

While teaching about foreign oppressive governments will not be appropriate for elementary age children, there are other ways to teach liberty to younger kids.

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How to help kids understand what liberty is

In my own elementary classroom, the below tips and guidance have helped my kids have a great understanding of liberty.

Relate liberty back to landmarks

Writing the definition of liberty on a picture of the Liberty Bell or Statue of Liberty can give children a visual representation and reminder of what liberty is.

Teach them about countries without freedom

While going into detail about dictatorship governments may not be appropriate, giving children a basic understanding of countries without as much freedom as America, such as North Korea, will help children understand how fortunate they are.

Introduce liberty like a story

Children respond well to narrative structures, teach them about the heroes of liberty, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in a story-like manner to help younger kids understand and feel engaged in the topic of liberty.

Why are feelings important for child development?

It is important that parents and caregivers help their youngsters develop social-emotional skills – the emotional awareness, healthy relationships, and the ability to recognize, comprehend, express, and respond to feelings in an appropriate manner – right from birth.

Here are seven reasons why feelings are important for a child’s growth:

1. Normalizing feelings decrease anxiety

Emotions are a natural aspect of the human experience. However, big feelings can feel quite scary and overwhelming for smaller children. Creating a conducive environment for a child’s feelings that validates their experiences is key to developing healthy acceptance of their feelings.

Besides, undue anxiety and stress are eliminated when the child is not fighting against their feelings.

2. Understanding our feelings is crucial for boosting emotional intelligence

Most parents automatically expect their kids to figure out how to manage their feelings in a healthy way. However, the first step in handling emotions is the ability to identify them. Helping your child to cope with a wide range of emotions is essential for pinpointing what they are experiencing. Remember, emotional attenuation is a crucial building block for emotional intelligence.

3. Learning how to self-soothe lowers unhealthy behavior

Once your child is able to identify their emotions, they can embark on building self-awareness around the things and circumstances that calm and soothe them. Keep in mind that this is a trial and error process where you get to work with your child to help them observe and identify what might be causing them emotional stress.

4. Working through powerful emotions gives the child the freedom to be their best self

Your child will not be able to realize their full developmental potential when they fall into a pattern of suppressing their feelings. Unresolved feelings tend to linger in the subconscious where they compromise the child’s internal resources and mental energy over time. It is important that your child functions at their best in their everyday environment.

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5. Learning about emotions can help parents too

It’s easy to allow the child to suppress their feelings with statements such as “stop crying, a piece of candy is not a big deal, really.” Your well-meaning effort to help your child reason will certainly be lost on a developing brain that is constantly inundated with stress hormones. So what is the takeaway? Well, your brain (and your child’s) cannot learn while in a heightened state of emotion. Remember, everyone wins when you encourage the feelings to come and go.

6. Emotional health is instrumental to physical health

Just as with an adult, it is natural for a child’s unresolved feelings to manifest physically through symptoms like ulcers, stomach ache, or even hypertension.

7. Encouraging sound emotional health clears the way for long-term health and overall well-being

If we’re to be honest, most adults are still trying to figure out how to manage their own feelings. And this can be traced back to poor emotional management during their childhood years. Helping your child build their emotional health right from birth is key to long-term emotional well-being.

The importance of emotional development cannot be overstated. Your youngster will have an authentic basis for social and emotional development if they can handle their feelings, build healthy relationships, and interact positively with the people around them.