For years, intelligence as a concept has taken on different meanings. Until recently, intelligence was only manifested as something related to logic, learning ability, verbal and mathematical reasoning.
But it was long considered that intelligence involves much more, including the ability to understand how we are feeling and other aspects related to emotions and sociability.
What do we mean by emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability we have to understand our emotions, as well as those of others. The ability to deal with them, self-control, empathy, as well as the ability to recognize these emotions, learn what triggers them and when others feel them.
In fact, emotional intelligence covers a lot more and also includes aspects like knowing how to react to the emotions of others.
We often focus on our children’s ability to learn and develop to their full intellectual potential at the level of theoretical concepts, but we forget something important, it is the emotional and social aspect. In fact, the emotional capacities of the little ones are a fundamental thing, because if they are strengthened and developed correctly, it will allow them to better integrate in situations of frustration, difficulty, uncertainty, etc.
Emotional skills allow them to deal with their own emotions and direct them towards their goals.
How to help develop emotional intelligence in children?
You will find below some techniques and recommendations to be able to apply them at home and help stimulate the emotional development of your sons or daughters.
1. Recognize emotions
Where are we going to start? It seems logical that if we are to improve our emotional skills, the first thing we need to do is “recognize the emotions”. So to start it is important to label emotions. Today there are many visual resources that make this task easier for children. For example, we can use books, virtual games, etc.
To recognize an emotion, it is important to understand what that emotion is, to define it, as well as to explain how we feel on a physical level when we have it. For example, to explain anger we could say: we feel it when we see that there is a threat or something that can upset us, when we don’t like something or when we think that someone is wrong. is not acting correctly.
It can be accompanied by a brief explanation in the form of sensations and behaviors.: When we get angry we feel our whole body tense up, our eyebrows furrow, our nose wrinkles, we generally speak louder …
2. Manage emotions
Once we have learned what emotions are and how to identify them it is important that we explain to the person how they can act after hearing it. For example, when we get angry, we can act in several ways: breaking things, attacking someone, calming down, breathing, trying to get out of their place, etc.
It is important to explain to the child how you can deal with each emotion, and learn the consequences of each option and teach other ways to act when we see that he did not handle the situation well.
One exercise we can do is to expose him to different social situations and ask him what he would do in that situation or explain it through characters and try to explain what this character can do for manage your emotion.
For example: Alberto stayed with his friend Inés to return a book he had lent her. When Inés arrives, she tells him that her book has got wet and that some pages can no longer be read. How do you think Alberto will feel? What do you think I could do in this situation? What will you say to Inés?
This is raise social situations in which they have to reason about emotions and different behavioral alternatives.
On the other hand, there are different techniques for self-regulation of our emotions and we can teach them to apply them at home. For example, some of these techniques are mainly used to regulate anger like the turtle technique and the traffic light technique. Both use metaphors and stories to explain how to stop anger, calm down, and then express how we feel or elevate what we want.
Empathy is the ability we have to understand the emotions of others and to put ourselves in their shoes. This is a very important thing for subsequent social relationships as it makes it easier for you to connect with others.
It is normal that when boys and girls are younger they go through a stage of ‘selfishness’ and have a hard time putting themselves in other people’s shoes, but if we use strategies to foster empathy, that will develop more easily.
One of the strategies is to tell stories of different characters where the person appears but also friends and / or family and you should try to detect what others will feel and why.
For example: your father asks you to take the room because your visiting cousins will be coming. You focus on a video game and in the end you ignore it. When you enter your room, your father sees that it is not collected. How will your father feel? How will you feel?
4. Emotional expression
Once we have learned to recognize emotions, regulate them and even understand those of others, it is important that we also take one more step: learn to communicate and express them.
It is of little use to understand my emotions if then I cannot explain to someone how I am feeling and why. To develop this skill, it is not only important that both boys and girls have role models, but it will also greatly facilitate their learning.
If we as parents get used to talking openly about our emotions, expressing them and doing it appropriately, it will be easier for our sons and daughters to copy these behaviors.
On another side, one exercise we can do to achieve this is to explain what words to use to express how we feel. For example: When you … I feel … After telling me this, I felt … I wish that when I … you …
The role of fathers and mothers is essential
Finally, we want to stress the importance that parents play at all times in this learning process. The little ones copy the behaviors of the environment, And therefore, if we want them to develop their emotions in the best way, we must try to be appropriate models of expression and emotional management.
Sometimes these strategies are enough, and with her own parenting skills and those of her children, emotional skills will be enhanced. But other times it doesn’t happen and requires additional help or some more specific guidance. If this is your case, you can contact us and our psychologists will provide you with the necessary resources and guidance.