The importance of developing your child’s emotional intelligence is undisputed. Their ability to sense their own emotions, recognise other people’s emotions and respond appropriately is what will mold them into well-rounded adults.
In fact, research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology showed 85 percent of financial success is due to skills in ‘human engineering’ including your personality, ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. Only 15 percent is due to ‘technical knowledge’.
But helping your child on this emotional journey is easier said than done. Young children, especially toddlers, are naturally self-centred. They start life in their own little bubble, being influenced only by their immediate surroundings. As they emerge into their pre-toddler year, they will be focused on self-play. It’s around this time that parents get worried about their ability to make friends, ‘play nice’ and share. However, this stage is the starting foundation of their emotional intelligence. It is when they start to recognise their own emotions, before they start seeing it in others.
One way that parents can assist their young toddlers is through play in a group environment. Even though they may be playing by themselves alongside others, they will start to open up to the concept of the emotions around them. The simple act of them observing the actions and reactions of the children around them is the catalyst that they will need to start understanding the emotional needs of others. A group setting such as the one found in a Toptots class is the ideal environment to introduce your child to their budding EQ.
As your child gets older, another great way to help them develop their EQ is through reading. When you select stories that delve into a characters emotions, it helps your child perceive the emotions of others. This, in turn, starts to develop their ability to empathize – which is one of the most important factors of EQ. After each reading session, talk to them about the emotions in the book. Ask them why the character felt the way the did? Would they feel the same way? These questions stimulate their brains comprehension of emotions and bring the EQ of the story into a real-world setting. Try Toptots Tom-e books to get you started.
There seems to be a pre-existing notion that adults need to hide their feelings from children. Generations before thought parenting meant not showing your own vulnerability. However, it is vital that your children see that adults experience emotions too. If you are upset, angry, disappointed or simply in a bad mood – there is nothing wrong with explaining that to your child. By saying, “Mom’s had a really long day today and is a little grumpy”, it validates that identifying your emotions enough to be able to explain them is normal, and will teach your child to do just that. Letting your child feel their emotions openly, introducing them to the emotions that other people are feeling, and letting them see your own are the first steps to raising a child with a strong EQ.
Toptots Early Learning SA