Teaching emotional intelligence to kids

What defines a brilliant child? Is it academic scores or inherited family traits? Surely, test scores can’t be the only way to determine a child’s ability. At one point in time, IQ was viewed as the primary determinant of growth. While it remains an essential aspect of a child’s development, parents today are increasingly realizing that teaching kid’s ways to manage their emotions and social behaviour is equally important in ensuring a child’s overall well-being.

Young children are exposed to and struggle with many emotionally turbulent stimuli both inside and outside their homes; right from packed academic and extra-curricular schedules to class bullies. Yet, burdened by expectations, a child is expected to react to these stimuli within the boundaries of socially acceptable behaviour.

Kids get scolded by parents, teachers and relatives for throwing tantrums and being difficult, not realizing that these are often innocent acts which don’t require judgements. Still, a considerate, sustained intervention by caregivers to boost kids’ Emotional Intelligence(EQ), helping them deal with their daily lives more healthily, underlines Simon Jacob, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Toiing.

The good news is that this is very doable through coaching and even a fraction of the effort we put into developing academic excellence in children can help them grow into well-rounded individuals with a healthy attitude towards life, Jacob says.

Here are some tips shared by Jacob to nurture and develop EI (Emotional Intelligence) or EQ (Emotional Quotient) in kids:

Help them identify emotions:
No one notices and understands kids’ unexpressed emotions, and unstated needs better than parents. The way your child understands and manages their emotions can determine their outlook and personality. So your role here lies in helping them identify various emotions and navigate this complex world by having conversations around healthy ways to react to different situations. Let them comprehend and react to different feelings running in ways that suit their personality and help them find the best way to channelize and express their emotions.

Two-way communication:
Kids learn faster and develop holistically in the open, connected and trusted environment. They can identify, understand and exhibit their feelings freely. A two-way conversation opens doors to a healthier parent-child relationship, where the parents inspire confidence in their children. Parents need to talk to them with an open mind and let them have a share of voice along with helping them distinguish between right and wrong.

Power of Play:
Play is incredibly important and allows kids to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity and emotional skills. Roleplay, storytelling, collaborative games and simple DIY activities such as labelling emotions can inculcate resilience, team spirit, improved communication skills and compassion for others.

Motivate and engage:
As a parent, we must acknowledge our child’s feelings and perspectives. This allows a child to express their feelings without the fear of judgement or admonishment, which in turn helps them familiarise themselves with different kinds of emotions. Encouraging them through active listening and by engaging with them actively in conversations around their behaviour can help them increase their self-awareness. Over a period of time, children learn to introspect and arrive at thought out decisions independently.

Emotionally intelligent kids are known to foster more meaningful relationships, have better mental health and are more likely to succeed as adults. It is about time we started treating emotional intelligence as a mainstream skill.