What is emotional intelligence?
You’ve probably heard many times someone mentioning or speaking about emotional intelligence. But what does it really mean? And why is it important that children develop emotional intelligence from an early age?
Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability of a person to identify, assess, control and express their emotions in an adequate way. It helps us communicate with others, negotiate situations and develop clear patterns of thinking.
Can we teach our children to be emotionally intelligent?
Scientist’s opinion is that we can indeed. All children need to develop and work on their emotional literacy, which will help them through the course of turbulent emotional experiences in the period of adulthood. Since its start, the educational system has focused on the development of IQ, i.e. improvements in the intellectual abilities of children. However, since 1996 and the introduction of emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman, many schools introduce the teaching emotions to children,emotional conditions and recognition and adequate response toot her people’s emotions in the irregular curricula. In our country, parents have the task to take care of the development of emotional intelligence in their children, since the educational system still does not offer a possibility for our children to develop in that direction within the framework of regular education.
How do we teach children about feelings?
- Help your child to name emotions
Teach your child to recognize emotions, starting with simple emotional conditions such as happiness, sadness, anger…, and then enter into little more complex conditions such as disappointments or frustration.
A great way to help children learn about feelings is to talk to them about how various characters in books or TV shows can feel. Ask them, “How do you think she feels now?” Then, discuss various feelings that a hero can experience and reason why. Do not forget to explain pleasant emotions too, no matter how much it is implied that children know when they feel happy and satisfied. Their awareness of these emotions will make the difference in experiencing these, but also less pleasant emotions that are part of each person’s emotional repertoire.
- Talk about your feelings
The best way to teach your child emotional intelligence is to show how you feel yourself. Talk to the children how you feel and let them see it themselves. For example, today I feel very happy because we adopted a dog. Our own emotions are encouraged by something that our child could do (good or bad). One of the most important things to remember is not to blame your child for making you angry – they didn’t upset you – you got angry. You could have chosen not to be angry.
If you tell your child to choose words when they are angry and that it is okay to got other room to be alone and calm themselves, but they also witness when you use foul language at the steering wheel of a car or shout when someone annoys you, there is a chance that your words will have no effect on the child.
Make an example of how to deal with unpleasant emotions.
Talk about it when you’re angry,”Ah, I got mad at the car that just stormed out on us from the side street. “Then take a deep breath and say,”The driver must have been thinking of something else”. In this way, your child can learn to recognize the skills that are used when a person feels angry and how to restrain their anger.
- Teach your children how to cope with their emotions
Anger is a normal emotion. But many children are struggling to understand the difference when they feel angry and when they behave aggressively.
Teach your child to name their feelings so that they can verbalise feelings of anger, frustration and disappointment.
Tell him, “It’s okay to feel angry, but it’s not right for you to fight.” Help him see that he controls his actions when he feels angry.
Sometimes, aggressive behaviour stems from a variety of unpleasant feelings, such as sadness or embarrassment. Talk about feelings often, and over time your child will learn to better recognize their feelings.
If your child feels sad because his friend will not play with him, talk about the ways he can cope with that feeling. Often children do not know what to do when they feel sad, so they become aggressive or seek excessive attention or defy.
- Teach your child how to solve problems
Part of building emotional intelligence involves learning how to solve problems. After we learned about feelings, named them and addressed them, it is time to work on how to overcome and solve the problem.
Maybe your kid is angry because his sister keeps interrupting while they are watching cartoons. Help them identify least five ways to fix this problem. Teach your child that mistakes are OK and that we should learn from them.
Once they identify at least five possible solutions, help them assess the advantages and disadvantages of each one of them. Then encourage them to choose the best option.
When your child makes mistakes, go through options which might have been different and what your child can do to solve any problem. Provide guidance when necessary, but help your child realises that they have the ability to solve problems in a peaceful and efficient way.
Apart from teaching children emotional intelligence through these daily exercises, we will exercise our self-control and improve our own skills. It is not easy to stay calm when driving while someone is blowing their horn because they think you are driving too slowly; or while you’re waiting in line and people go in front of you; or in the park when a mom does not move her child from the swing for 15 minutes while five other children are waiting in the line including yours. Here’s a challenge. Don’t forget, in most situations, your child is with you. Be an example for them. Give it a try. We guarantee mutual progress – both yours and your child’s! 😊