One of the more difficult things about being a child is learning to deal with emotions. It’s especially hard for younger kids, who don’t have a lot of awareness or control over the way they feel. Emotional intelligence and regulation is a developmental skill, so just like walking and talking, children’s brains and emotional development happen over time.
What is emotional intelligence (EQ)?
Emotional intelligence involves being aware of emotions and identifying them in yourself and those around you. It also includes being able to manage emotions in yourself and others and problem solve from situation to situation.
Dr Daniel Goleman says, “emotional competencies are not innate talents, but rather learned capabilities that must be worked on and can be developed to achieve outstanding performance.”
This is a skill that is not only important, it’s downright vital to your kids being successful throughout their school years into being an adult. In fact, an individual’s emotional intelligence is considered by most people to be far more valuable than their IQ.
Even though some kids have a harder time with this and might be delayed in these areas, there are things we can do as parents and educators to help them learn these skills and the best time to help them learn how to cope with emotions is right now! The good news is that it can be done during everyday activities and routines!
Give your child an opportunity to learn how to identify emotions by playing games such as Emotions Charades. You can take turns acting out emotions and guessing what the other is “feeling”. Practicing observing and identifying emotions during simple games like this, in a structured and fun manner can build vocabulary and insight, and help them to identify it when it happens in real life.
Introduce a new emotion word on a weekly basis.
Spend the whole week talking about it. Find examples that show the emotion in books, magazines, TV, and videos that might demonstrate it too. Talk about what it means, how it looks and feels in your child and others. Discuss and role-play how to handle feeling it, and try to identify times that you might feel the emotion of the week.
This tip ties back to Tip #2 and I call it being an “Emotional Detective.”
Take your child to a public place – like a mall or other public area – and people watch. Try to determine how they are feeling based on their facial expressions, body language, and mannerisms. Discuss why they might be feeling that way (e.g. a child might be happy if they just got an ice cream cone).
Check in with your child a few times a day to see how they are feeling. Provide a visual of various faces to help them talk about their emotions. Tell them how you are feeling and explain why. If they are having trouble verbalizing, maybe they can draw or write about it.
Practicing building these skills on a regular basis will increase your child’s EQ and give them tools to understand the emotions they are feeling which also supports their ability to manage them.
The best way to boost their comprehension is to get help from the people who genuinely care about them. Embrace teachable moments and jump in to teach your kids these essential life skills.