Educating kids is so much more than just teaching spelling and math. When a child attends school they are learning the core subjects that will help them read and write and help them to go into the field of work they will choose as an adult. But what is often neglected is teaching them how to master their own emotions and give them an understanding of how they and the people around them work on an emotional level. If you are choosing to educate your children at home then you are in a perfect position to really help them master these skills. It can be easy to just let your kids follow the curriculum and do a few of their extra curricular activities to get their dose of socialization and then hope for the best. But if you are really wanting your children to grow and flourish and grow into strong minded, kind an understanding people then there is a little more work that you can do to help them on their own journey of self development.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
So what exactly is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence encompasses how children and adults deal with other people and situations in their lives. It is about growing and developing in a way where you can understand your own motives and reactions to certain things and that of others. Having a greater understanding of why you and people around you respond in certain ways can help to navigate through tricky friendship situations, family life and later the way you relate and treat colleges and romantic partners. An aspect to emotional intelligence is self awareness which is the understanding one has for their own actions and being able to look outside of themselves and see what aspects they can improve on to become the best version of themselves.
It may seem like a lot to try and teach a child, and most people grow up with a bit of an understanding about the way humans work, but by helping guide your children through this you can be giving them a deeper understanding and help them grow in a safe and loving environment.
Ways to incorporate teaching into their daily lives
Teaching emotional intelligence isn’t just a regular lesson you teach between nine and ten in the morning. Emotional intelligence can be taught through subtle ways, by modeling behavior yourself as their parent and teacher, and by having open dialogues with your children as situations arise so they are learning as they go without even realizing it.
If you teach a child hitting is wrong by smacking them each time they hit another child then they are getting very mixed messages about what is the right thing to do. Obviously as a parent you are human and far from perfect, you will have moments when you loose your temper and get frustrated, maybe raise your voice or say the wrong thing, no one is exempt from that, but if you are able to be open with your children and know how to apologies or explain your own behavior without justifying it then your on the right path. Children learn so much from their parents that it’s important that you practice what you preach. If you do react the wrong way to something in front of your kids you can always go back to them later and explain why you lost it bust also tell them that you know that behavior was not correct or acceptable. If they see you justifying or making excuses for yourself then they will think also that kind of thing is okay for them too.
Likewise if you see a situation in the home or outside of the home where your child has acted in an insensitive way towards another then have an open conversation about it with them, without accusations the point of this is not to make a child feel so bad they believe they are then a terrible person, but more to let them assess their own behavior and realize that is good and what is not. Ask them about the incident and see if you can help put them in the shoes of another to see if they can understand how another may have felt from hurtful words or actions and then prompt them to come up with solutions of how they can make things all right and what they could change for next time.
This works both ways also; your child may be the one at the end of someone else’s hurtful behavior. Create a safe space for your child where they can share their experiences with you and you can be understanding and sympathize with their hurt feelings but use it also as an opportunity to help them grow and not remain a victim. You can help prompt them as to why the other child may have acted the way they did, what may be going on in their life that could be having an effect of the way they treat others. You don’t have to justify the other child’s behavior but by helping your child realize that another actions are often just a mirror for their own hurt or pain can be more freeing for the victim as they don’t have to think they deserve to be treated like that.
By creating an environment in your home where children feel safe to share their experiences you are helping them to grow as a person and feel more secure in who they are.
Teaching with activities
As well as learning when problems arise it’s good to teach children when things are going well in their lives also. There are many different games and activities these days that can help kids understand the types of people and also the kind of person they are without putting themselves into a direct box, but just to explain why they may have certain reactions to things, what is really important to them and what they find important in relationships with others. These are fun games that can be taught as an added extra to their school curriculum. Some of these games come in the form of emotion cards that kids then sort into different categories to understand which emotions come with which behaviors and the older the kids are the more advanced they can get with these understandings. There also board games that can be played in groups that allow kids to get into the shoes of others and they and understand things from their perspective. Or activity games where the kids can move around and be active while following the games rules. These games can be played for fun with family or with a group of kids and if after the game you allow some time for discussion you can hear what the children have learned from these games and how they can apply their learning to their own lives.
For younger children there are a lot of great books about feelings that you can read to them then discuss. Even from a young age children can learn compassion and what is appropriate behavior towards other people and also towards them-selves.
Teaching kids self-management is one of the most important things you can do for them. By helping them understand themselves and other better they are able to make good judgments, be compassionate people and also know their own boundaries and not become simply ‘people pleasers’ As well as good scores in their core subjects, being a person that can interact well with others and understand people will help them enormously in their adult lives, getting jobs and forming close meaningful relationships. By taking the time to help children grow in this area you will be growing as a person also and creating a great and emotionally safe environment for your kids to truly blossom in.