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5 Emotional Skills Every Child Should Have

My 10-year-old son recently shared a secret with me. He had used some of his allowance to buy Pokemon trading cards, which he called "way, way expensive." He didn't even like the cards, he admitted to me. But trading them was a way for him to build and keep some friendships in school with his classmates who collected the cards.

His willingness to use his growing social sophistication and empathy to work on friendships shows how important emotional skills are for children in elementary school. Starting around age 5 and continuing through adolescence, the important skills children must master are emotional and social. How do I go about making friends? How do I handle frustration?

Many of these skills start in toddlerhood of course. And just as parents can help (or hinder) their youngsters' early conquests of physical challenges, they can help school-age children become more emotionally sophisticated and confident.

Let's look at five of the greatest challenges faced by kids in school: patience, self-reliance, responsibility, bonding, and self-control.

Contributing editor Lawrence Kutner, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and the author of five books on child development, teaches at the Harvard Medical School.