Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Teaching Emotional Intelligence

I think we've really hit this moment with EG- where she's old enough to understand that she doesn't like things, and feels sad and angry and disappointed, but not old enough to figure out the differences between those feelings.

And as she grows into this beautiful and amazing girl there have been a few moments that have given me pause.  We've talked about the 'I Can't do it' phase, which she still seems to be settling out of.  But what's become worrisome to me now is her response to other people's tears- 'Calm Down' and I think we're heading down a dangerous path.

So what is emotional or social intelligence?  Sounds like something fancy, but it's actually quite simple.  Someone's ability to manage their own emotions and relate to other's emotions.  And, if I'm honest, EG is doing fairly well on the managing her own emotions.  Her tantrums are mild, she usually shares her toys, and typically understands when explained why something can/can't happen. 

They say that emotional/social intelligence starts at this young age- and starts with helping your child identify their own emotions and to empathize with their feelings.  This is something I think we struggle with a little bit.  When EG starts crying because Mommy or Daddy is leaving, the natural thing to think and say is 'you're okay...' but in reality all we're doing when we say that is devaluing her emotions.  She doesn't think she's okay.  She's sad and hurt that Mommy/Daddy are leaving.  As an adult, empathizing with that feeling and helping her identify it can be really challenging- especially if you're leaving her with a babysitter or grandparent.

At this age a lot of Emotional Intelligence relates to how kids interact around toys.  Since we don't advocate 'sharing' in our household we're a bit ahead of the curve in that realm.  We advocate waiting your turn, and taking things in turn.  However, in order to help EG understand her emotions and feelings we need to be taking it one step further- verbalizing what she might be feeling while she's waiting.  "I know it's disappointing to wait for your turn, do you want to X while you wait"

Of course, it's easy to say, and hard to accomplish.

Last night we had one of EG's friends over for a playdate.  She came home from school with us, and her and EG played around through dinner when her Dad came to pick her up.  And sometimes we did well, and other times we didn't. 

One of the things that worked well was letting EG choose what to start with, since it was her house.  I used this to effectively head off a possessive ownership of carseats and highchairs.  Since they are both EG's by letting her decide which one she wanted to use, she felt good about her friend being in the other.

I continually used terms about taking turns, and helped to promote equality by finding another baby dolly, baby blanket, push cart, etc. 

But at the end of the day, I'm trying to raise a responsible adult.  Not a teenager who needs me to referee.

I'm hoping that in the months to come we take advantage of those less heated moments.  When EG is scared of the vaccum or a dog.  Taking the time to acknowledge her feelings, help explain them to her, and help her move past them if possible.  Showing her the vacuum, helping her pet the dog, and when she cries because Mommy or Daddy is leaving, hopefully someone will say "I know you are feeling sad that M/D went away.  Where ever they are, they are always your Mommy/Daddy and always love you." 

When EG does feel mad or angry that someone takes something, I'm hoping to teach her to stand up for herself.  To express to the person she's mad at directly her feelings of anger, or hurt, or rejection.  But, one day at a time...

How are you teaching your child emotional/social intelligence?  Is it working? 

I found a few resources on the interwebs that seem helpful:  here, and here.  Let's just hope that I can remember them in the moment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...