Enchancing Emotional Intelligence Of Kids
ENCHANCING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE OF KIDS INTRODUCTION
Most educators agree that children's emotional well-being contributes greatly to their social and intellectual development. However, adults have traditionally denied children's feelings by saying things such as, "You shouldn't feel that way!" or "You'll be fine. Forget it." (Leah Davies, M.Ed.) Negating children's strong emotions can result in fearfulness, confusion, shame and resentment, which can interfere with their learning. When negative emotions are suppressed, they usually resurface and cause problems. Children who are taught to identify, express, and cope positively with their feelings develop useful life skills.
Human beings experience a variety of emotions that cannot be categorized as right or wrong. What is important is how children handle their feelings. Children learn by observing the significant others in their lives. Adults who honestly express their feelings in constructive ways foster children's emotional growth. When educators model self-understanding and emotional maturity, their students are more likely to do the same.
Emotional Intelligence is the act of allowing our emotions to do as they were designed to do and use the information as a means to get to know about ourselves.
Social-emotional skills help us manage emotions, build healthy relationships, and show empathy and understanding.
Social-emotional skills allow kids and adults alike to understand and recognize our thoughts and feelings in order to connect with others. They help us communicate and express ourselves in the appropriate way in different environments and with different people. For example, a child may see her friend is upset and ask if he is okay.
Kids start learning these skills from the time they are born! Babies learn early social-emotional skills by caregivers consistently meeting their needs, providing a safe and healthy home, and modelling emotions through communication and play interactions. It is important for parents to nurture social-emotional skills so kids develop healthy relationships with friends and family members.
Make friends and maintain friendships
Manage stress and anxiety
Learn social norms
Make appropriate decisions
Resist negative social pressure
Learn strengths and weaknesses
Gain awareness of what others are feeling
How else can educators enhance children's emotional development?
Help the children gain an understanding of their feelings through the use of books, board games, puppets, interactive storytelling or role-plays.
Teach children to identify and verbalize their feelings, as well as to read the emotional signals from other children and adults. (For useful tools to promote emotional literacy, revisit www.kellybear.com.)
Watch a child's facial expressions, posture, play or art work for signs that a child is experiencing a strong negative emotion. Then offer constructive ways to defuse it, such as painting, dialogue or taking a "time out."
Accept emotional responses as legitimate, even if you don't like the behavior the feeling produces. For example, when a child hits, the feeling of anger is demonstrated. Stop the child and say, "It's okay to feel angry; it's not okay to hurt others. Talk to me about what your feeling."
Communicate understanding and empathy by reflecting the observed emotion. For example, say, "You seem sad" or "You seem upset." Then, if the child confirms your reflection and begins talking, be quiet and listen. (See "Helping Children Cope with Anger" in Teacher Ideas, www.kellybear.com .)
Observe the child's nonverbal behavior for clues as to how he or she is feeling. Listen for the content of what is being said, as well.
Avoid negative statements like, "Can't you do anything right?" or "What's your problem?" These comments discourage open communication and suggest that when a child does not behave perfectly, he or she is "bad."
Avoid moralizing ("That was wrong of you!"); humiliating ("I can't believe you did that."); lecturing ("You should have known better."); denying ("You'll be okay."); pitying, ("Poor you. It's all their fault."); and rescuing, ("I'll take care of it."). Instead, listen patiently and nod your head appropriately. Remember that questions can often lead the child away from the real problem or cause the child to stop talking.
Problem solve with the child by encouraging him or her to think of options and decide what constructive action to take. (See "Ten Ways to Foster Resiliency in Children" in Teacher Ideas, www.kellybear.com .)
Keep lines of communication open. You might say something like: "Emily, I am glad you told me about your mom's illness. It must be hard to have her in the hospital. Please know that I care about you and that I am here if you want to talk again."
Helping Children Cope with Anger
By Leah Davies, M.Ed.
All human beings experience anger. But children, in particular, have difficulty channeling their strong emotions into acceptable outlets. Anger is a response to a real or perceived loss or stress. It results when a person's self-esteem, body, property, values or sense of entitlement are threatened. It is often a reaction to feeling misunderstood, frustrated, hurt, rejected or ashamed.
Children often blame other people or events for their anger instead of assuming responsibility for it. If children do not learn how to release their anger appropriately, it can fester and explode in inappropriate ways or be internalized and damage their sense of self-worth. When children express their anger inappropriately, it may mean that they lack coping skills to deal with their emotions in positive ways.
To assist children in becoming emotionally competent so that they are ready to learn, educators need to help them:
1. Understand their anger and the emotions of others.
2. Develop positive social interaction skills.
3. Realize that they are responsible for the choices they make.
4. Learn how to express anger in ways that aren't harmful to themselves or others.
How can educators do this?
* Model acceptance of each child as a valuable human being worthy of respect.
* Accentuate each child's strengths.
* Make your expectations compatible with children's level of development.
* Provide a safe, responsive, predictable environment.
* Provide children the opportunity to make choices.
* Send honest, congruent messages, making sure your words match your facial expressions and body language.
* Be fair, supportive, firm, and consistent. Never ridicule a child.
* Watch for and acknowledge appropriate behavior.
* Teach decision making and problem-solving skills.
* Use role-playing, puppets, or videos to teach social skills. For example, how to treat each other or how to work out disagreements.
* Involve children in making rules such as:
* We are kind to each other
* We listen to others
* We use self-control
* We work out differences peacefully.
* Make the rules clear and follow through with meaningful consequences which are appropriate for the age of the child.
* Be aware of nonverbal signs that a child is angry such as a red face, tensed muscles, or clenched fists.
* Understand that a child's headaches, upset stomach, or withdrawn behavior may be a symptom of repressed anger.
* Watch the child carefully, noting the antecedents to aggressive behavior. Ask yourself:
* What happened right before the outburst?
* How was the child feeling?
* What does he or she need/want?
* What can I do to make the situation better for the child?
* Anticipate angry outbursts and arrange activities to reduce them. For example, if the child gets angry when it is time to go inside, talk with the child ahead of time and share your expectations. Then comment when the child acts appropriately.
* Arrange the seating to decrease conflict. Separate children who arouse angry responses in each other.
* Help children understand that anger is a natural emotion that everyone has. Say things like, "It's okay to feel angry. Everyone feels angry sometimes, but it is not okay to hurt yourself or others."
* Stop any aggressive behaviors. Say, "I can't let you hurt each other," or "I can't let you hurt me." Then remove the child or children as gently as possible.
* If the child is out-of-control, provide a quiet place where he/she can calm down.
* Resist taking a child's angry outburst personally. Deal with the child in a calm, matter-of-fact way.
* Acknowledge strong emotions, helping the child control him/herself and save face. For example say, "It must be hard to get a low score after you tried so hard."
* Assist the child in using a vocabulary of feeling words. Read books that ask the children to verbalize a time when they felt various emotions.
* Use feeling words to help the child understand the emotions of others. For example, "Mary is sitting alone and looks very sad; she may be lonely," or "When Joe tripped, he looked embarrassed."
* Help children understand their own emotions by putting their feelings into words. For example say, "It made you angry when they called you names."
* Listen, reflect and validate without judgment the feelings the child expresses. After listening, help the child identify the true feeling underlying the anger such as hurt, sadness, disappointment, fear, or frustration. For example, "That hurt when your best friend was mean to you," or "It was scary to have them gang up on you."
Ten Ways to Foster Resiliency in Children
By Leah Davies, M.Ed.
Resilient children are those who adapt well, despite experiencing adversity in their lives. Families, schools, and communities have a profound influence upon children's ability to be persistent, overcome obstacles, and develop hope for their future. When children are influenced by caring adults with high expectations for their success, they are more likely to withstand negative pressures and become responsible adults.
What Can School Professionals Do To Enhance Resiliency In Children?
Respect and Demonstrate Kindness Toward All Students
Children should be greeted by name as often as possible, especially at the beginning of each school day. Staff members need to be encouraged to display interest in students through thoughtful words and a pleasant demeanor.
Promote a Sense of Belonging and Ownership in the School
Children can participate in their school by helping in the classrooms, doing errands for their teacher, working as crossing guards, being peer mediators, picking up trash, tutoring younger or special needs children, or contributing in other areas. After-school involvement in arts and crafts, drama, sports teams, clubs and activities can also increase school bonding.
Recognize and Believe in Each Child's Worth
Challenge students to do their best and express confidence in their ability to do many things well. Make expectations clear and encourage perseverance and critical thinking. When children express original thoughts or unique points of view, acknowledge their ideas.
Accentuate Cooperation Rather Than Competition
Structure environments so that children feel safe, secure, and ready to learn. Acknowledge individual improvement, rather than emphasize who is smartest, fastest, or most talented. Give recognition freely and compliment individual and team effort.
Teach Social Interaction Skills
Empathy, communication, and responsiveness need to be modeled and stressed. Be aware of and prevent teasing, gossiping, excluding, or other bullying behaviors. Have the students role play friendship and assertiveness skills; be careful to choose children who will model the behaviors you want to reinforce.
Teach Problem-Solving Skills
To foster self-awareness and self-control have the children practice using the following steps from the Kelly Bear C.A.R.E.S. Program:
Ask, "What is the problem?"
Ask, "What can I do?"
Make a list of ideas.
Decide which one to try.
Ask, "Did it work?"
If not, ask, "What will I do now?"
Foster Leadership Skills and Good Will
Provide opportunities for children to discuss their ideas and make decisions regarding classroom activities. Establish a student council or other organization that acknowledges children's interests and concerns and promotes character development. Increase kindness throughout the school by having students and staff write down observed caring behaviors. Acknowledge the identified students.
Help Children Discover Their Strengths and Talents
Provide time for children to imagine themselves doing something outstanding and worthwhile. After they set goals for themselves, discuss ways to reach their goals, and brainstorm choices they may need to make.
Model Tenacity, Emotional Maturity, and Healthy Attitudes
Be organized, consistent and use appropriate coping skills. Be genuine and avoid embarrassing or using sarcasm with a student.
Involve Parents To Foster a Bonding, Nurturing Parent-Child Relationship
Help parents see that they are their child's most important teachers, and that as role models they need to spend quality time teaching, training and exhibiting those habits and values they want their child to have. (For tips on how to encourage such a relationship, see Increasing Parent Involvement in Schools and Ten Ways to Involve Fathers in Their Children's Education under Teacher & Counselor Ideas. You can also find seven articles offering parenting tips at Parents Tips.)