Establishing Emotional Intelligence
From The Secure Child set of talks and materials
From an early age, you can help your child to establish a greater emotional intelligence. Developing in ways that will support their transition into school. As well as the success they are likely to experience in the classroom.
By allowing your child to experience their emotions, even the negative ones, they can learn to identify, understand, and manage their emotions. And negative emotional predispositions can be avoided.
Children are deeply passionate about things. And outbursts can be all too familiar before they learn to regulate strong emotions.
If a favoured toy breaks, a 4- or 5-year-old may be distraught with grief. If another child broke the toy, even by accident, your child may be furious. And an emotional outburst be a hasty and regular response.
Your child’s depth of skill at handling these situations depends on their emotional intelligence; their ability to monitor both their own and other people’s emotions. They need to understand and label the different emotions being shown. And they need to be able to use emotional information to guide their thinking and behaviours.
Before they can understand and respond adaptively to another person’s emotional experience, your child needs to manage their own. This takes strategies of emotion regulation allowing them to regain control over their emotional state. As well as rethinking the situation, and focusing on reasons to feel happy or calm. This may be a time when the anger will have passed.
While this is all a part of growing up, their are ways in which you can help your child to establish a greater emotional intelligence.
So, what can you do to manage strong emotions?
In the moments after any strong emotional reaction, there is a small window of opportunity to decide how we are going to react; and yes – even make a choice about what happens next.
During this time, help your child to modify their viewpoint and return to a state of calm through conscious thought.
There are times when we all feel angry. Trying to eliminate anger is neither possible nor desirable. It can be destructive, but it can also motivate us to change our circumstances for the better.
Equally, happiness, joy and love are emotions every parent would want for their child. But to experience these emotions unquestioned or unchecked could mean staying in situations they would be better getting out of.
Our job is to teach our children how to handle their emotions in healthy ways.
It is very tempting to shy away from dealing with difficult, emotional situations. No one ever said a furious 5-year-old is easy; but that is exactly when they are ready to learn how to calm their anger and how to manage it.
So, model kindness and respect as you help them learn about their emotions. Demonstrate how to communicate and manage when they feel angry. And how to express healthy levels of joy and happiness. By helping your child establish a greater emotional intelligence, you are developing skills that will stay with them throughout life.
Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods. Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child. www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk
DEVELOPING EVERY CHILD’S POTENTIAL