As parents and educators, we have long understood the importance of teaching children the basics of reading, writing, mathematics, and science. But in recent years there has been a growing focus on the need to also teach children about emotional intelligence (EI).
The concept of EI is based on the idea that understanding emotions—both our own and those of others—is essential for successful social functioning. It is an important factor in managing relationships, making good decisions, and being able to cope with life’s challenges. In short, it can help set young people up for success both now and in their future lives.
With this in mind, here are some key points to consider when exploring how best to teach emotional intelligence to children.
1. Start early: Emotional intelligence is as important as any other skill, so it’s never too early to start teaching children about EI. This could include things like identifying emotions in themselves and others, understanding the link between thoughts and feelings, learning how to manage their own emotions, and developing empathy towards others.
2. Model the behavior you want to see: While talk is important when teaching EI, it’s also important that adults model emotional intelligence in their interactions with children. Show them what good emotional regulation looks like by reacting calmly to difficult situations and expressing emotions appropriately.
3. Encourage problem-solving skills: When dealing with a challenging situation or emotion, help children to become problem solvers. Ask them questions such as “What do you think would be the best course of action here?” or “How can we work together to find a solution?”
4. Help children understand the consequences of their behavior: It’s important for children to understand that there are natural consequences for certain behaviors or emotions, and these should be discussed openly and honestly.
5. Provide opportunities for practice: Emotional intelligence is a skill that needs to be practiced in order for it to become second nature. Encourage children to engage in activities that require emotional regulation, like playing cooperative games with others or discussing difficult topics in group settings.
By providing children with opportunities to learn and practice the skills of emotional intelligence, we can equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate life’s challenges. This is an essential part of helping young people build confidence, resilience, and happiness.