Looking to nurture your child’s emotional intelligence but don’t know where to start? Keep reading to get a thorough understanding of emotional development, its five essential skills, and simple ways to intentionally foster it at home.
Strong emotional intelligence is a key component of the Whole Child Learning model. Whole Child Learning prioritizes the full scope of a child’s developmental needs to ensure that every child reaches their full potential. The education model is based on the premise that children have six selves that comprise who they are: cognitive, physical, emotional, social, creative, and spiritual.
Think of the full scope of your child’s development as one giant puzzle. All the pieces work together to form the whole child. If just one piece is missing, the puzzle is incomplete. Therefore, emotional intelligence is part of this integral network where other developmental areas depend on it to thrive.
Why is Emotional Development Important?
Why is emotional intelligence important? Strong emotional development leads to five essential skills: self-awareness, social awareness, emotional regulation, responsible decision-making, and relationship building. These skills influence success in society, at home, and in communities. Emotional intelligence is also important because it plays a critical role in fostering other areas of development, especially social development and cognitive function.
Let’s discuss ways we can intentionally foster emotional development in our homeschool and set our children on the pathway for success.
1. Create a safe environment where children feel confident to express themselves.
A safe environment is one that is physically safe and provides security through a consistent routine and emotional support. A child that feels safe will thrive not only emotionally but also academically and socially. Even more, safe environments are conducive for children to express themselves and practice authenticity.
2. Offer healthy coping tools for managing emotions.
Children need to know they have options for coping with their big emotions. Teach them tools like deep breathing, meditation, and talking with a trusted family member about their feelings. You can also make a chart to remind your children about all the healthy ways to express their emotions.
3. Increase your child’s emotional vocabulary.
Those big feelings have a name. Make sure your child knows how to put their feelings into words. Reading age-appropriate emotional intelligence books is a great way to expand emotional vocabulary and spark conversations about emotions.
4. Validate their emotions (even when it’s expressed through negative behavior).
Children need to know that feeling anger, sadness, and frustration is normal and does not make them bad people. Teach children that strong emotions may not feel good but are entirely manageable. Knowing this information is the precursor for solid emotional management and builds self-confidence and a healthy response to emotion.
5. Be an example.
The saying goes; children do what we do, not what we say. As parents and caregivers, we know we can’t be perfect all the time. But during those imperfect moments, let’s remember to apologize to our children and discuss ways we could have handled our emotions better. Each mistake we make can teach our children how to be reflective and take responsibility for their actions.