What is Emotional Readiness?

Emotional readiness is an important factor in a child’s success socially and academically. To be prepared for kindergarten, and for life, there are basic ingredients needed in a child’s first years. Learn more about emotional readiness in the expanding sections below.

What is Emotional Readiness?

For young children, emotional readiness is a set of emotional skills developed in the first few years of life that allow them to successfully navigate the first day of kindergarten, ask for help when they get stuck on math problems and handle everyday happenings on the playground.

Emotional readiness includes self-confidence, interest in learning and a motivation to connect with others. Amplified throughout a child’s life, emotional readiness sets the stage for future relationships and success at school, work and as a citizen of a community.

Emotional readiness is defined as the developing capacity of the young child to:

  • Form and positively engage in relationships
  • Practice empathy
  • Express and manage a full ranges of emotions
  • Develop a love for learning

Learning—and life—is easier when you have these tools in your toolbox.

How Does Emotional Readiness Develop in Children?

Emotional readiness is developed through a child’s consistent, sensitive and responsive relationships with caring adults – parents, grandparents and childcare providers. It requires adults to have an awareness and dedication to helping a child develop emotional readiness.

Emotional readiness is cultivated by:

  • Consistent and sensitive relationships with caring adults
  • Awareness of the child’s point of view by caring adults who place the child’s needs first
  • Caring adults role modeling of managing life’s daily ups and downs
  • Curiosity and delight in learning demonstrated through everyday interactions

A secure, flexible and trusting relationship with at least one caring adult is the single most important predictor of a child’s academic and social competence.

This adult-child relationship enables the development of empathy and creates a model of supportive and trusting relationships for the future. Children learn that when one person is in need, another person responds with kindness and sensitivity.

New research suggests that having a sensitive and protective relationship during the first three years of life may even impact adult health outcomes such as diabetes and heart disease.

Use Ordinary Moments to Foster Emotional Readiness

In the beginning, a baby’s emotional needs are simple: He needs his caregivers to show up, physically and emotionally. This is good news for his overwhelmed and sleep-deprived parents. A baby smiles, babbles and cries to attract attention from the caring adults around him. The baby’s internal drive to connect with his caring adults and their response helps create the optimal environment for healthy development.

Opportunities to foster emotional readiness present themselves constantly in ordinary moments like changing a diaper, nursing and playing patty-cake. Countless ordinary experiences with mom or dad help a baby learn the pleasure, comfort and security of relationships. The baby carries forward what he learns during middle-of-the-night feedings, afternoons at the park and everyday moments of love and attention into the world.

Emotional Readiness Applies to Adults Also

Emotional readiness doesn’t just apply to children. In order to for an adult to be able to be in relationship with a child and act as a caring adult and role model, the adult needs to have relationship skills and awareness of others’ needs. Please read the information in sidebar to learn more.