Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and manage one’s emotions while reading and treating others with empathy. By developing this special quality, young children learn to identify their strengths and weaknesses to further develop themselves. Emotionally intelligent individuals are also more likely to manage and adapt to new and changing situations, possess relationship-building and conflict resolution abilities, and communicate more effectively.
When provided with guidance and support, children have the remarkable capacity to develop emotional intelligence from a young age. When children learn how to regulate their emotions effectively and improve communication, they can tackle complicated social scenarios, and develop vital skills that will serve them throughout their lives. Actively educating them on emotions, empathy, and self-awareness allows us to facilitate their growth as compassionate, resilient, and socially adept individuals.
Let’s look at some ways that we can foster emotional intelligence in our children.
1. Promote Emotional Self-Awareness
Cultivating the development of a child’s capability to perceive and comprehend emotions is essential for building emotional intelligence. Talking about emotions can encourage them to identify and label their feelings. This heightens their emotional awareness and establishes the groundwork for developing emotional regulation skills.
For example, if a child seems sad, we can use an open and positive approach, such as, ‘You seem sad today. We all have days like that – do you want to talk about it?’ This validates their emotions, which makes them more inclined to share their thoughts and feelings, while inviting them to be curious about their emotions. Parents can also help young children expand on their emotional vocabulary to enhance their ability to share and understand a broader range of emotions.
2. Model Emotional Regulation
Young children are keen observers who closely watch and absorb everything from their parents, particularly during their formative years. It’s essential to demonstrate good emotional regulation techniques by showing composure, resolving conflicts peacefully, and approaching stressful situations with a problem-solving mindset.
Flying off the handle or suppressing your emotions unhealthily when confronted with challenges can cause your child to adopt similar reactive habits. Children can learn effective regulation of emotions by observing positive and consistent behaviour.
2. Teach Empathy and Perspective-Taking
We can promote a deeper understanding and respect of others by teaching children to put themselves in others’ shoes. This sets off their thought processes to reflect how they would feel if they were going through something similar.
To illustrate further, when engaged in reading a story, pause at specific intervals and ask about topics that inspire perspective-taking and empathy. You could pose questions like, ‘How do you reckon that character feels at present?’ or ‘Would you feel the same way if you were in that situation?’. This prompts children to contemplate both emotional states experienced by characters within a story as well as enable connections with their personal sentiments.
Compassion in Young Hearts
Children are born with an innate capacity for compassion and empathy. It is our role to nurture and guide them to build on these natural abilities for their development as well as their emotional and social well-being. Managing their emotions in a healthy way and being able to positively connect with others are vital life skills that pave the way for them to thrive and prosper in their future interactions.
At New Life Childcare in Woodlands, we provide a compassionate and nurturing environment where every child feels cared for, valued, and emotionally supported. Visit our centre to find out more!