Children are full of enthusiasm for life and are crazy little balls of non-stop energy. If they’re not running around playing they’re making friends (or talking to imaginary ones). As children grow, they develop emotions and they learn to manage these emotions.
After all, we have all seen children crying or screaming because they haven’t been allowed to buy a lolly from the store, but how often do you see a teenager screaming like this? Children’s emotional self-regulation is a key part of growing up, and as a parent, it’s our responsibility to equip them with the tools they need to develop good emotional intelligence.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is something that stems from a range of sources, but the simplest definition that we have come across to date is that:
“Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor your own emotions as well as the emotions of others, to distinguish between and label different emotions correctly, and to use emotional information to guide your thinking and behaviour and influence that of others.” Source
As children grow and develop, they learn emotional regulation and strategies for regulating their emotions to get the best possible outcomes. Children are very clever and will work out strategies for dealing with problems and managing issues.
Emotional intelligence, in a nutshell, is a child’s development of awareness, understanding and how well they can manage and express their emotions. Emotional intelligence is part of healthy development, and at Bushkidz we are committed to ensuring that your child has the best possible opportunities for growth and change.
Why is emotional intelligence important in children?
It has been found in numerous studies that children who can regulate their emotions and engage in self-control are more likely to engage in prosocial behaviour, accomplish their goals, and achieve success in their lives.
A study focused on school aged children and tested the same children again in their 30s and found that those children who were able to self-regulate were more likely to succeed in terms of social achievement, family, finance, and overall achievement. Children who had self-control and emotional intelligence were also less likely to have issues with substances and alcohol.
How is emotional intelligence shaped?
Children’s emotions are unpredictable and can run rampant. This is all part of growing up, and one of the first components of developing emotional intelligence is developing an understanding of emotions and the role they play in our lives. Emotions are a part of being human, so they serve a purpose, whether it is to motivate behaviour or to regulate our actions.
When you think about each of the emotions we possess, it’s important to treat them with respect and understanding and to be patient with ourselves. Even as adults it’s important to be kind to ourselves and to give ourselves time and space with our emotions. And for children, it’s especially vital to give emotional development ample space and time, lest the development of a child is stunted or hindered.
Emotional intelligence is shaped by:
- Developing empathy and an understanding of how others feel – as well as putting this skill into practice
- Building social skills and managing the emotions of others through understanding
- Growing the ability to self-motivate and to prolong gratification through the furtherance of a less pleasurable goal
- Building self-regulation and the ability to manage negative and disruptive emotions
At Bushkidz, we have a deep understanding of how emotional intelligence is developed and how important it is for kids to have the opportunity to experience a range of emotions and feelings. We do not seek to prohibit growth, and we are committed to providing the best possible environment for your child to learn in.
The importance of all emotions
All emotions are important; not just the happy ones. For example, sadness is an emotion which works on us by slowing us down, both physically and mentally, and makes up hyper-reflective and often pessimistic. Sadness is a profoundly centring emotion where feelings come thick and fast. It is common to be fearful of being sad – of being depressed – and being blue.
‘Cheer up’ and ‘stop crying’ are common things to say to someone who is sad, but in actual fact sadness is an emotion worthy of attention and respect. Without sadness in our lives we lack dimension; so we know that acknowledging sadness is just as important as celebrating happiness. That’s not to say we dwell on sad times — we do not believe that self-pity or enduring focus on sorrow is helpful! But by acknowledging sadness when it comes, about real things, and letting feelings be acknowledged, we can encourage development where children become adults who are truthful, vibrant and balanced individuals.
In contrast, when happy times come, we celebrate them, engage with them, and reinforce them without trying to cling to them – acknowledging the transitory nature of all emotions and the value of being in the moment.
Ultimately, we respect and reflect on emotions – even anger – and we practice feeling emotions and tolerating them as part of our human experience.
At Bushkids we:
- Value all emotions – even negative ones – and help children solve problems while at the same time, placing limits on appropriate behaviour
- Are patient, kind, and respectful with children
- Use emotional experiences as an opportunity for growth and to offer guidance
- Are aware of our own emotions and use these as an opportunity to connect and teach
- Listen and validate your child and reflect with them, helping them to understand what they are experiencing
- Help children develop a vocabulary about their emotions
- Put appropriate limits in place for problem-solving about emotions – after all, all emotions are acceptable, but that doesn’t mean that all behaviours are!
As a final word from us to you…
Your emotional intelligence needs nurturing too; it’s not just in childhood that growth and development take place. Remember that your child does what you do, not what you say, and they pick up on so much from us. If you are feeling sad, overwhelmed, or just plain exhausted think about taking time to reflect. See if you can get help from a family member or friend with some care for your child, or come and see us at Bushkidz.
Your personal wellbeing is so important, and it is vital that you are in a good place so that you can provide the care your child needs. We are always here to help with daycare and childcare services, so call us on (07) 3201 4231 at Blacksoil or (07) 3813 0975 at Brassall.