Advice Column, Child

Practical ways to enhance emotional intelligence in children

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Emotional Intelligence is like freshly-squeezed orange juice!  When you squeeze an orange, you expect orange juice to flow out of it.  You wouldn’t expect to find grape or peach juice inside an orange because an orange only has orange juice to give.

Human behavioural choices are based on what we have inside to give – much like that orange.  “What we have inside is based on how we feel about ourselves as a person. And… how we feel about ourselves as a person influences every choice we make!” says Cindy Glass, Director and Co-founder of Step Up Education Centres.

She adds that every choice that we make defines the path of our lives! “All negative behaviours are based on fear, low self-esteem, self-defeating and destructive self-talk and low self-value. Consider, for a moment, how nobody, who values and respects himself would want to hurt another! The very act of self-value and self-respect ensures that he will give that out to others!  This is the reason why it is so important to teach and enhance emotional intelligence skills in our children!”

Emotional intelligence is self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills all packed into one. Cindy adds that children who master emotional intelligence skills become better leaders, study more effectively, enjoy more fulfilling relationships with others, are better able to retain information, have better concentration skills and live happier more fulfilled lives. “In fact,” she says, “Schools who teach emotional intelligence skills even have fewer bullying incidences and learning for all is more exciting, creative and effective!”

She gives parents and caregivers the following tips on how to enhance a child’s emotional intelligence skills:

  1. Communication is key. We need to talk to our children about their emotions and listen sincerely to their answers… without judgement.  This will help them become more aware of how they are feeling and, with your encouragement, they will find more positive solutions to any number of challenges. Use phrases such as:

“How was your day?’  “What was the best/worst thing that happened today?’ “How did that make you feel?” “I hear you…”   “I can understand how that must have upset you…”

  1. Teach your children to take responsibility for the choices that they have made.  Blaming others has no value. We all make mistakes… own them and learn from them. Help your children understand that every choice has a consequence.  We are free to make any choice that we want.  The consequences, however, will be there no matter what.
  2. Teach your children to value who they are so that they will value others around them.
  3. Children do what we do and not what we say. It is vital for you to walk your talk.
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