While parents focus on increasing their kids IQ, it is the EQ of their children that defines their performance as genius, smart or average…
Emotional quotient or EQ is now recognized to be as important as IQ. And so care givers and educators must understand how emotional development in children can be enhanced.
It is important for parents, caregivers and teachers to understand the huge impact of television programs on young children’s emotional development. The amount of ‘fun violence’ seen in cartoons and children’s programs is not healthy at all for the emotional growth of children. It teaches them that heroes and villains can both use violence to achieve success. By watching such programs constantly children lose out on developing important emotional skill- empathy. This can lead to them displaying violent and aggressive behavior without remorse or guilt. It is also important to note that when children watch natural or manmade calamities on news channels (like bomb blasts or earthquakes) it has an impact on them emotionally; they fear that this can happen to them or their families etc. So it is important that adults discuss such programs if viewed by the child and help the child understand or allow the child to question or voice all their fears so that children can be nurtured to think sensitively about such issues without cause for fear or violence.
How can parents help enhance emotional development in the early years?
- Parents who understand emotional development in children will have better behaved kids not because they practice disciplining techniques but because they practice emotional competence.
- Help children be aware of different emotional states both in themselves and in others. Most cell phones have smiley faces. Smiley face charts are also available on the net. Use these often to help kids label and identify their emotions and then those of others.
- Help children identify and label their feelings and thus enable them to deal with them appropriately. Use sentences like these to help them label emotions, “I see you are angry because you did not get the blue crayon…..”, or “I see you are sad that your friend did not sit next to you…..” and then extend the sentences to help enable them to cope with the emotions, “….but you can color with the red one till the blue one is available.” Or “….but you can sit with Yash today and maybe share with him all the fun.”
- Stories and story characters can be used as an important tool to help kids cope with and understand emotions. Use appropriate stories and then use discussion starters like-
- Talking and discussing about the emotions shown by the story characters, both positive and negative.
- Asking the children how they think a character felt at the end of a story or when something important happened in the story. E.g. “How do you think baby bear felt on seeing his chair broken?”
- Asking the children what they would do to help the character in the story feel better. E.g. “If you were Goldilocks what would you do to make baby bear feel better?”
- Learn the art of observing children and then be alert to your child’s facial expressions and body postures; they tell us a lot about the emotions that the child is experiencing. When you feel that your child may be experiencing a strong or negative emotion then use emotional diffusers like- block or role play, drawing or paining, talking to you in a time-in, where you sit with your child and let the child share what is troubling him or why the child was troubling others.
- Accept emotional responses; learn to teach your child to reject the emotional behavior or to channelize it. For example if a child bites someone, the feeling is of anger or frustration. So teach your child to acknowledge the emotion by saying, ‘I know you are feeling angry or frustrated that you are unable to get a chance on the slide but you can talk to me about it as it is not acceptable to bite or hit someone.’
Our child’s emotional quotient is in our hands, be careful and nurture it well.
Arm your child with the ability to cope, and this comes from emotional intelligence. Negative emotions, thoughts and feelings will never allow your child to achieve his/her full potential. After all, stress affects the brain; so understand your child’s emotional needs and give him/her the support and care required to strengthen his/her emotional armor.
“Emotion influences attention, memory, learning, meaning, and behavior.” Eric Jensen
Dr. Swati Popat Vats
Parenting Mentor and Coach