This article is more of a research paper and review on previous studies than new experimental findings. This paper tries to make a connection between emotional functioning and social competence (popularity) of a child. The definition used in this paper of social competence is “the ability to be effective in the realization of social goals. ” This can also be viewed as the ability to influence peers and their activities. Peers of the children were chosen as the source of competence evaluations. This research was based on six different emotional functions and abilities.
Children’s understanding of emotions, their identification of their own emotions, emotion regulation, practice of emotion display rules, their sympathetic response, and their mood states. Understanding of emotions seems very closely correlated to peer social status of a child. The ability to understand emotions also implies the ability to judge the social context in many situations, allowing the child to make “relevant comments and [engage] in group-oriented behavior. ” This ability allows the child to “engage successfully in cooperative play for sustained periods of time. ”
There was no direct evidence that the ability to identify one’s own emotion has an impact on social competence of a child. However, it is logical that being able to identify one’s own emotions would help understand the emotional states of others. Emotion regulation also seems to play a key role in the social competence of a child. Most children realize that they are in charge of their emotions and that emotions can be altered. As children get older, successful play will require more self control because there will be many situations where “negotiation of conflict” is necessary.
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Children who are able to display more self-control will be perceived as a more desirable play partners. It has also been found that “social popularity is inversely related to overt anger incidents. ” It seems that the more popular children are better at coping with anger inducing situations. The concept of emotional display rules is similar to emotion regulation. Emotional display rules are the rules that are followed so as to keep the peace and balance in a social setting. Certain emotions are not appropriate for some situations.
It is difficult to quantitatively assess how well a child uses emotional display rules, but it follows logically that a child who is well liked by his peers will be able to properly display or mask his emotions in a given situation. Since sympathy requires one to be “other-oriented,” meaning understanding the distress of others from their point of view, it would require some emotional control. Both teachers and peers describe popular children as more cooperative and helpful than the average child, and rejected children as less helpful.
However, there was no direct evidence for concluding that social status can be predicted from sympathetic responding. Mood states of a child can also be a factor in whether that child is a desirable playmate or not. Children who routinely display positive moods are better liked by their peers. Moody children tend to be disliked by their peers. However, it is difficult to determine cause and effect of this. From this article, a child’s social status and popularity has great correlation to the emotional functionality of that child. We do not always know, as with many other psychological studies, what the cause is and what the effect is.
This seems to be the case with the mood states of the children. However, in all the other cases, the cause seems to be the emotional functionality of the child and the effect is popularity. So should we teach our children to be more emotionally stable and functional? Should we make our children conform to society’s standards to be “popular? ” I see nothing wrong with it. We can make our society more utopian by making sure that our children are emotionally functional and that all the children are accepted by each other. As those children grow to be adults, they can be more cooperative and productive, making a overall better society.
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