Did you know that we have two brains and two minds in general?
One is rational and the other is emotional. And they are two totally different kinds of intelligence. With the dawn of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) spreading rapidly in the lives of our children, amongst families, with the parents, in schools and its curriculum the poignant question is;
How To Create Emotionally Intelligent Children?
The theory of EQ is usually considered rather profound and complex. However, if we dig a bit deeper, we start realizing, there are ways to simplify it and make it practical. The world of EQ advocates working closely with our emotions. The emotions that we all are born with. A newborn baby arrives with an array of emotions. It is a compulsory package that unfolds step by step through various life experiences.
A few years ago the concept of EQ gained more attention when Daniel Goleman, an American Author, Psychologist, and Science journalist, reported on the brain and behavioral sciences. The theory of Six Basic Human Emotions- of fear, joy, love, surprise, sadness, and anger resurfaced.
Interestingly, these elements of human emotions were also deeply embedded in our Vedic literature, Indian spiritual scriptures and writings, an impressive and astonishing work by our great thinkers, sages, and philosophers thousands of years ago. Emotions then, have always been around – validated by both Science and Spirituality.
Children are a bundle of intense energy. If we ever want to understand emotions in the most simple ways, it is through them. They are a representation of what every emotion is supposed to be. Raw and real.
And this is why, the best time to build EQ is early and every day.
Building EQ is a process. When babies coo, they are communicating. When infants cry they are sharing a message. When toddlers throw tantrums, they are sharing confusion. When preschoolers shout, they are sharing discomfort. At school, at college, and in life as an adult, everybody uses emotions as tools to communicate.
It is not just a parent’s or a teacher’s job to build emotionally intelligent children, it is the work of everybody as a team. Here is how we can start.
1. Talking about emotions: There is no perfect age to talk about emotions. Emotions are a part of our everyday life, hence talking about them every day can be made as a natural practice. To ask questions such as ‘How are you feeling today?’, ‘What happens if you listen to a sad story?’, ‘What makes you happy- music or playing with friends?’ The purpose is to normalize talking about how children are feeling at home and school.
Tip: Use stories. Stories are great conversation starters.
2. Adding words to every emotion: The way adults feel anger is different from how children experience it. EQ is to bring awareness to how one ‘feels’ a specific emotion. With children, parents and teachers can begin with defining one emotion at a time. For eg. Asking questions such as ‘What do you do when you feel happy?’ , ‘What happens when you feel scared? Or ‘What do you mean when you say you are feeling sad?’ The idea is to help children identify what happiness and sadness mean to THEM as it is a unique experience.
Tip: Begin with one powerful question every day, ‘What was your most dominant feeling today?’
3. Sharing your own emotions: As adults, we are orchestrated to suppress our emotions in front of our children as parents and as teachers. Children learn better through observations. The best way to open channels to bring EQ in everyday life is to share your own vulnerabilities with children. The more teachers and parents share how they feel about their own behavior and that of others, the easier it will be for children to understand that it is natural and they will in turn learn to own, express, and channelize their emotions.
Tip: Use everyday situations to talk about emotions. Fancy worksheets, creative activities, videos add value, but the simplest way to begin is to simply be honest about how you are feeling to the youngsters.
4. To respond rather than react! Awareness is everything. One classic way to help children build a strong EQ is to help them deal with them gently. To let them know that it is okay to feel jealous, angry, sad, and embarrassed. But, to teach them age-appropriate ways to express the same emotions in a healthy manner. For eg. To pause before reacting, to ask for help, to share with someone close, to state them in words. A child can be taught that when he or she is angry, instead of hitting someone else or screaming, they can simply express what made them angry.
Tip: Art, stories, and interaction – all have a key role to play here.
5. They are tools! The children of today are quick absorbers and have higher processing speeds. Emotions can be powerful tools that can be used every day. A secret to understanding their friends, to share an idea, to deal with failures, and also to be successful in their everyday goals. The more we show them the potency of the emotions, the more they will learn to channelize them and use it to their benefit.
Tip: Share examples of inspiring stories or people who have achieved goals through self-belief, through love, and being positive. Explain to children how emotions are a very powerful tool to be used to create themselves, better relationships, and life, in general.
The only way to help children learn about emotions is to simplify it. Just raising the awareness levels to something that naturally exists. To stay open and vulnerable and let them know it’s okay. To feel love. To feel resentment. To be happy, and sad. Peaceful and angry. We go through the entire gamut – so why deny it to our young ones?
Every exchange that children have with their parents, teachers, and friends are moments of profound possibilities – for them to accept and embrace emotions, to channelize and use this power to create their best versions. Emotion is energy in motion – let’s give direction to it for our young ones!