Section 3, Article 1 - In early childhood, parents and caregivers often see continued growth in children’s emotional functioning. In order for children to properly manage their growing emotions, it is imperative that their psychosocial functioning progresses via improvements in . Culture often influences the teaching of emotional regulation as various cultures strive to regulate specific emotions. Proverbs 22:6 charges parents with the role of training their children in the way they should walk, both emotionally and spiritually. Effortful control applies to this verse in regards to how children must be taught to exert effort in controlling their emotions, as their nature makes them inclined to do the opposite (Galatians 5:17a). Without proper emotional regulation, children may handle their emotions through , which are more common in boys, or , which are more common in girls. Being able to regulate one’s emotions is a lifelong endeavor, and this ability grows significantly between 3 to 5 years of age, as the prefrontal cortex continues to develop ().
As children continue to progress in numerous skills, it becomes apparent that children have moved from Erikson’s second stage of psychosocial development — autonomy — to his third developmental stage — initiative versus guilt. Children’s initiative to develop new skills is often influenced by and should be met with optimism and encouragement. If this is not done, Erikson believed that children would develop a guilt that could progress to self-hatred and a negative .
During the early childhood years it is common for children to dialogue with imaginary friends and inanimate objects. This can actually help meet their growing psychosocial needs and grow their emotional regulation.