Do children understand feelings beyond being happy, sad or afraid? A new study has suggested that as children reach four years of age, they are ready for conversations about complex feelings and parents can help them learn and navigate more complex feelings like pride, optimism, disappointment and frustration.
For the study, a group of preschool children participated in a staged contest in which it had already been decided who would be victorious. The researchers observed that the winners, even the two-year-olds, showed some obvious swagger- heads held high, chests puffed out, hands on hips in a victorious power pose. The psychologists who staged the contest, later asked the children to choose from a set of four pictures the one that best shows how they feel.
The children involved in the study recognized pride in other people at four years of age. They could see it in themselves at five years. The researchers said, "The results suggest that children get ready for conversations about complex feelings at age four."
One of the researchers Ross Flom, psychology professor at Brigham Young University in the US, said, "When parents talk to their kids about emotions, those children demonstrate better emotional regulation as they get older."
The research is published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.