When emotions are high, people say and do things they normally would not say or do and the severity of this depends on the intensity of their emotions. Therefore, having control over one’s outburst of emotions is a trait everyone needs to master. With consistent practice, one is able to manage the expression of his or her emotions and the ability to do this is referred to as Emotional Intelligence.
Often, people are of the view that Emotional Intelligence is an ability needed to be cultivated by adults only, however, children equally need to have this ability because it is essential for them to be aware of, understand, express and manage their emotions. Children who are able to hold back impulses which are often driven by emotions and avoid distractions are able to engage in positive social behaviours and accomplish their goals.
Just as the academic achievement of a child is greatly attended to, his or her emotional intelligence should also be given attention because research suggests that Emotional Intelligence is twice as a strong predictor of success as IQ. Children need to experience the feeling of varied emotions and practice tolerating and managing them in order to develop self-control and Emotional Intelligence. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend that parents should not use technological gadgets to calm or pacify children when they express negative emotions as this could result in impeding the ability of children to regulate their emotions.
All kids have the capacity to learn and develop Emotional Intelligent skills, they just need to be thought and some of the ways in which this can be done are:
- Help children to recognise how and what they are feeling. This means that children must be helped to label their emotions, therefore, using emotional words such as angry, painful, embarrassed, upset, excited, happy etc. can help them build a vocabulary to express their feelings.
- Be empathetic towards children and validate their feelings.
- Teach children healthy ways to understand their emotions and cope with them. For instance, help them to know how and when to be calm, cheer themselves up, face their fears etc.
- Help children to develop problem-solving skills.
- See emotions as an opportunity to connect and coach the child about Emotional Intelligence.
A child who exhibits Emotional Intelligence is not only smart about his or her feelings but is likely to maintain healthier relationships in the future and this will contribute to his or her general success in adulthood.
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