Emotional development involves the way of experiencing our own feelings, understanding how and why they happen and how we can be able to regulate and properly express our feelings. It also helps us to read others’ emotions.
In the context of Education for Life teaching principles, we help the children develop their awareness that the feelings we experience every day depend on us and what kind of emotion we will experience in any given situation lies within us. In this respect, evaluating a situation as important in our life is needed to develop certain feeling according to Zoran Milivojevič (2008). Through everyday situations, the teacher leads the children to recognize and be aware of their own feelings. Children in concrete situations and from their own experiences learn that, regardless of external circumstances, they can be consciously in a pleasant mood state or choose pleasant emotions.
The basic function of emotions is to get people prepared and motivated to take action (Milivojević, 2008). Unpleasant emotions arise when the balance between the human and his or her environment breaks down and this has a negative impact on his quality of life. The function of unpleasant emotions, in this case, is to motivate a person to reconnect. A person experiences pleasant emotions when he or she improves his or her balance with the environment and thus the quality of his life in it. The pleasant emotion, in this case, is a kind of reward for human effort and motivation to further improvements in the quality of his or her life. All emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant, therefore, have an important role in human life.
The emotional reactions of adults (parents, teachers) to the child and his emotional reactions play an important role in children’s emotional development. The reactions of parents and other children of important adults co-shape the child’s mental thoughts about feelings (Milivojević, 2008). A child adopts mental situations , takes them “as his own” and organizes them in his own reaction to external situations. Similarly, the child’s attitude towards oneself arising: the emotional reactions that adults have devoted to him, the child internalizes them and feels them in relation to himself. This creates children’s self-emotion – the emotions that he feels towards himself. Emotional reactions, which parents and children’s narrower (immediate) environment express in relation to other people, are also very important.
Milivojević (2008) developed the model of the Circular Emotional Reaction (CER) with which he describes seven steps, which explain different phases in the processes of the emotion arising and forming the emotional reaction. The model is very useful in practice since it helps individuals to understand how their emotions depend on their understanding of the world around them or their interpretation of the current external stimuli.
Within the presented education program, the CER model is used on the three levels.