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I like that CA have changed how the Child Emperor works, but I think they've really only scratched the surface of what could be done with the character. In fact, I think the foundation is already there to turn him into an engaging, important, and rewarding part of the game; by combining the implementation of Liu Hong from Mandate of Heaven, and the interactions with Empress Jia from Eight Princes.
First; the Child Emperor should implemented in a similar way to Liu Hong; a unique character who can't be deployed in battle, but sits in a special slot in the Court screen when you have control of him. He would have a unique portrait (that changes as the game progresses to show him growing up), a skill tree, equipment slots, etc. But most importantly, he would also have a satisfaction meter.
Second; periodically you get unique events on how you interact with him, just like with Empress Jia from Eight Princes. He may have whims like demanding you spend a chunk of money expanding his personal residence, demanding you dismiss certain characters for perceived or imagined slights against him, or even give you missions like capturing a certain settlement within a given time-frame (this doesn't mean he has any real authority over you, he just likes to feel involved in decision-making).
Depending on how you interact with him, and if you fulfill his his missions or whims, his satisfaction with your faction would go up or down, just like your relations with Empress Jia and the Jin Empire in Eight Princes. Carrying out his wishes and completing his missions increases his satisfaction, and as long as his satisfaction is high (say, above 85), he gifts you with unique or rare ancillaries, and bestows titles on you that further increase your prestige. If you regularly ignore him, his satisfaction would go down, and if it drops too low (say below 70) there is a chance of him fleeing your faction and seeking refuge with somebody else, and this chance increases the lower his satisfaction is.
Finally, once the Three Kingdoms period begins properly, you have two options; retire the Emperor and remove him from the game, allowing you to ascend as one of the three Emperors, as normally happens. Or keep him in power and act as his Regent, which gives you a slightly-different Imperial Court, with the Emperor sitting beside you at the top. Your faction is renamed to "The Han Empire", and you must then go on to defeat the pretenders to the Emperor's throne.
Lastly, a little quality of life improvement. Instead of the "Stay Regent / Kill Him / Banish Him" choice popping up every three years, the option should only appear once when you first gain control of him, after which you can manually choose to kill or banish him via a special button in the court screen at any time before the Three kingdoms period begins.