I'm sure you have heard of emotional intelligence? I do have the book but as usual I am lacking free reading time and am yet to read the first page. If I have time to read it has to be for my Psychology degree! But i will graduate in June, YAY - Hopefully Ill slowly get through my to do list after that and actually get to read for the fun of it.
A little on Emotional Intelligence....
It is the Ability to persist in the face of difficulty (very important in 'not giving up' as a child is still learning), Ability to monitor ones feelings (also very important for young children as this ability will help with conative ability and behavioural regulation, it also will prevent alot of tantrums), Ability to read others' feelings (important in social situations) & Ability to take action that considers the needs of self and others.
Teaching your child to recognise their feelings and take notice of their emotions is a great way in teaching them how to cope with feelings that are very new and sometimes very intense in their little bodies. It requires acknowledging their feelings, accepting them and finding appropriate outlets for them. A friend of mine once told me 'to hold on to negative emotions has physical ramifications on your body', she is absolutely correct!
We all know stress kills, and we all know how negative, intense and stressful emotions can build up, causing us to lash out (often to those who don't deserve it, our loved ones), say inappropriate things, do inappropriate things, get physically ill (headaches, sickness, high blood pressure for example) and basically have unwanted consequences in our life's.
Yes, to some extent it is inevitable. But, wouldn't it be lovely to teach our children and the future generation how to actively manage this and teach them how to release and let go of strong emotions in a constructive way - How to identify and regulate their own feelings, making them more sensitive to the feelings of others and possibly fostering a healthier emotional life for them, your family and their family in years to come?
I believe so, however this is a huge and difficult task. Especially in the toddler/preschool years when emotions are so huge inside a little persons body.
Here is a start
1. Acknowledge feelings- The first step is to help them identify their feelings and acknowledge why they feel that way. Don't deny their feelings, that will only teach them to push them away and hide them, where they can manifest into an implosion onto you, others or will eventually destroy them internally.
Making clarifying statements to help them identify how they are feeling and why, for instance "Wow, those blocks are frustrating you because they keep falling down. Stacking blocks that high is really tricky. That's OK, keep trying and you will get it. Why don't you try to use a smaller block and place it on top really slowly"
2. Don't yell- When you yell you are teaching your child that to get a point across you must yell or be aggressive. Making statements in a positive frame with open ended discussions, not only teaches conversational skills but gives your child a clear explanations and guidance. Yelling, cancels out listening as well, so speaking in a positive tone makes sure you guide them in the correct path while setting a good example.
3. Be specific- When you are helping them identify their feelings and need to, say remove them from a situation or behaviour they are doing let them know what they CAN do and be specific with your guidance and praise. A good way to praise is to be personal and specific. For example, instead of 'good boy, that was great' - Turn it around and express your own feelings in words, starting with 'I am proud that you... I am impressed by your .... & when you can see them actively regulating their emotions or identifying how the feel, praise their ability "I'm noticed that you calmly helped your sister with her shoe, thank you. You did well to see that she was getting frustrated at it and you didn't let her feelings get to you, that was so grown up of you!"
Its hard and I know I don't do it enough, I think our brains aren't programed to speak like this and we need to constantly be aware of how we act, how we express our own feelings and we have to always be attentive to the fact that our children need teaching in ALL aspects of their development.... This is a challenge even to the best of them! As parents, teachers, carers and role models we need to reprogramme our brains to be emotionally intelligent for the sake of our little ones. I accept the challenge and vow from this day forth to consciously be aware of my feelings and how I project them; setting a good example as well as consciously teaching Dimples how to identify and manage his own.
Here is a little activity I put together for Dimples, as step one- Identifying feelings and emotions of self and others through facial expressions.
On a miserable day I quickly drew up some faces, with all different types of feelings and emotions showing on them. I laminated them & cut them out, as I plan to keep using them as puppets.
OK, so they aren't the best drawn faces but you can see what they are "feeling" that's the main point, If you don't have the time to draw them up you could google facial emotions for kids in images and come up with some to print off I guess.
I wrote on the back of them, what they were feeling. two words for each. Here are some...
Mad & Remorsful
Ashamed, frustrated (red face), sceptical.
Disgusted, upset, frightened.
We went through them and I asked dimples to have a play with them and see how their faces looked different. At first we went through and identified what the face was.
This is a good opportunity for expansion, he would say he is crying! Then I tried to help him through open ended questions, why is he crying? he is sad. He is upset, He doesn't feel very nice. He has tears as he cries. why might he feel this way. when have you felt like this? for example.
There are some tricky ones but I tried to get a wide range of emotions. These are the ones we went through and other meanings/ discussions we had on them. All of them, we took turn pulling the face and saying reasons why someone may feel like that.
Dimples placed the faces on a print out of faceless bodies and told me what the person was feeling, I asked why & he told me a little about each. This was great for story telling and using his imagination.
Dimples being "excited"
Smiling - Happy- Content - PleasedLaughing - joyous - humorous - Very Happy
Angry - Cranky - Mad - cross - irritated
Sorry - Regretful - remorse - apologetic - "they didn't mean to & feel bad"
Sad - Upset - Crying - unhappy - depressed
Sleepy - tired - weary - drowsy - heavy eyes -
frustrated - annoyed - irritated - discouraged - "Nothing is going right today for him today"
Worried - anxious - concerned - nervous
Confused - Unsure - puzzled - baffled - "she doesn't know what's going on"
Disgusted - appalled - sickened - revolted
Excited - thrilled - enthusiastic - Really looking forward to something
frightened - scared - terrified -
Sick - Unwell - Feeling down - ill
Sceptical - Suspicious - unsure - thinking into something - Evaluating his thoughts
Surprised - Stunned - shocked
Embarrassed - Humiliated - Ashamed - red face, shoulders up, face turned & no eyecontact.
Hurt - Sore - in pain - suffering
Sceptical - Rubbing his chin & being serious as he thinks
Disgusted - pulling a Yuk face, "I tasted something gross" he tells me...
Cranky - Dimples & his mad face, he kept feeling his eyebrows to check they were frowning
Be positive :-) Keep smiling & Happy Adventures.