Emotional Intelligence. It sounds like an advanced term, but it’s referring to maturity. People who have sharp emotional intelligence have a tendency to experience a more fulfilled, happy, and satisfied life.
It’s about the process of creating a framework through which essential intelligence moves to determine emotional responses to various stimuli.
Different Stages, Different Timing
Each child is going to go through, necessarily, the same stages as one another, but they won’t do it at the same pace. They will also learn different Emotional Intelligence skills at different rates.
That means there’s not a single, neat, orderly way to summarize how development should look in various children. There are things parents, caregivers, and teachers can do to improve sensory-motor development, improve impulse control, and help children make friends easier. This is all encapsulated in the concept of emotional awareness.
Understanding One’s Self
If you aren’t fully aware of your self, your preferences, your needs, how you learn, what you enjoy, and so forth, you will have a difficult time developing reliable emotional intelligence.
The same holds for young children. The better they understand themselves, the more effective they can be at communicating. It also becomes more positive when they have to deal with feelings or emotions that are not considered pleasant.
This is a strong foundation for building positive relationships, but also in becoming more empathetic. Emotionally intelligent children have a better understanding and perception of other people’s emotions, which helps them foster stronger leadership skills in the future.
By developing a more profound emotional intelligence base, children can also gain more mastery over their body, behavior, and the world around them. Emotionally intelligent children have higher esteem and confidence that they will achieve their goals, succeed at what they do, and that the adults around them can help if needed.
Accommodating Different Environments
Emotionally mature, intelligent children have a stronger sense of personal control. When they understand their emotions, they can hold them in check when necessary. They no longer become victims to the whims of their feelings and can handle disappointment, frustration, or even anger in a more positive, constructive manner.
Children experience significant emotions every day, just as adults do. They deal with joy, happiness, sorrow, frustration, anger, etc.
However, if they aren’t taught or don’t learn the necessary skills to manage those emotions and be able to “switch gears” when the situation calls for it, they can get stuck, and that can lead to a downward spiral that’s difficult to step out of.
Emotionally healthy children can process these different emotions and feelings through play and creative endeavors, and all of this helps them learn at a more exponential pace.
The Value of Empathy
Empathy, especially in our modern society, cannot be understated. Having the emotional capacity to understand another person’s situation, struggles, and specific needs is tantamount to helping the people around you.
By developing empathy, it has a direct impact on social behavior throughout the years of their childhood, into their teenage years, and hopefully their adult lives. In many cases, strong empathy that’s developed early in life gets carried through to adulthood, no matter the struggles, challenges, or heartache one faces as they hit puberty and go through the peer pressures of those high school years.
Emotional intelligence can also lead to strong reflective empathy. Reflective Empathy is one’s ability to see things from another person’s perspective. This allows them to see what other children are experiencing, share in their frustrations, and help their peers better manage their own emotions and struggles.
These children who have reflective empathy also begin developing emotional cues, including recognizing facial expressions, behaviors such as laughing or crying, and even other unspoken moments, thus discerning meaning from each of those.
Another powerful benefit of emotional intelligence is the ability to communicate one’s emotions more effectively. Children with underdeveloped emotional intelligence will resort to the most primal forms of communication, especially during stressful situations.
Crying, throwing a temper tantrum, yelling, shouting, withdrawing, curling up, sucking thumbs, and so forth are all examples of negative expressive emotions, at least in older children.
Being unable to control one’s anger or to communicate effectively, it is going to escalate the problem, no matter what situation the child faces.
The same holds for adults. Consider people you may know who has a short temper or a short fuse. They may fly off the handle, shout, slam things, punch a wall, throw things around, or even threaten others with physical violence.
These individuals have lower emotional intelligence and never learned how to properly handle or express their emotions, which has truncated maturity and development in their adult lives.
Talk to Your Children
One of the best ways parents can help their children develop more positive emotional intelligence is to speak to them often. Ask about their day, listen to them, engage in conversation, and pay close attention to the frustrations, anger, and hurt they indicate.
Ask about these emotions. Find out if friends or classmates have experienced the same things. When children are encouraged to think about how others may be feeling the same way, it fosters stronger empathy.
Discuss alternative solutions to problems, especially manners in which children didn’t correctly behave the way you wanted or expected them to.
It’s okay to exhibit some emotion in front of your children. Many parents try to put up a strong front and not let their children see them cry or get angry, and while there are certain situations children should not be exposed to (including language, the aforementioned physical frustration, etc.), there is some value and letting children see our emotions.
Show them the positive side, that crying is okay, that being angry is okay, but it’s how you deal with those challenges that reflects your real emotional maturity and intelligence.
By fostering healthy, positive emotional intelligence early, children can get established with a strong foundation of maturity for the rest of their life.