As a society, we value intelligence. And once our children start school we want them to do well academically. We help them learn to read and we show them how to write their name. Evenings are spent practising spellings and times tables. Yet we rarely teach our children about emotional intelligence.
From an early age, we shhh them when they cry. We tell our children to be quiet when they’re angry. And we often use negative language to describe their emotions. They’re not just upset they’re throwing a tantrum. Our children aren’t happy or joyful, they’re overly excited. We use terms like grumpy and playing up to describe when our little ones are learning to deal with their confusing emotions.
In a world where there is still a stigma attached to mental ill health, we try to teach our children to dampen their emotions. Instead of helping them learn to express their emotions in productive ways we urge them to suppress how they truly feel. For some reason, we seem to believe that creating emotionally repressed humans is best for our society.
And as parents, we’ll happily prioritise teaching our children to spell the word sad before we teach them how to handle feeling sad. Yet, if you want your child to be happy, content, fulfilled and a valued member of society who is able to meet their full potential then they need to be emotionally intelligent.
Why I Want Our Children To Have Emotional Intelligence?
Years before Mr H and I had even contemplated having children, I began to have doubts about being a mother. I worried about the impact my mental ill health would have on a child. I feared that having depression and anxiety would make me a terrible mother. That I would be so consumed by my own emotions and thoughts that I would not be able to parent properly.
I was also scared about the possibility that my depression was genetic. I would never want to bring a child into this world knowing that there was a chance that they could have mental health problems purely because they were my son or daughter.
Still, to this day, I worry about my children and I fear for their mental health. I can’t bear the idea that they will ever feel as I have felt in my darkest hours. It breaks my heart to imagine that they may know that isolation and desolation. And I live in fear that they may ever believe there is only one, very final, end their story. (Even writing those words makes me feel physically sick). Because I know how lucky I am to be alive today.
I know that I have no control over what happens in my children’s lives. However, I do have control over how I educate them and help them to navigate their life. For me, one of the most important parts of this is helping my children to develop emotional intelligence. I want them to be able to understand that as human beings we all feel emotions. It is our emotions that help us to empathise with other people. They help us interact socially. And our emotions can affect our health, both physically and mentally.
5 Reasons Why I Want My Children To Have Emotional Intelligence
1. Understanding Emotions
I want my children to be able to understand that it is okay to experience emotions. Happiness, love, anger, sadness, loneliness and fear are all perfectly natural emotions. We are designed to feel them. I want to be able to help Little Mister and Little Miss H acknowledge how they are feeling and be able to process that. I don’t want them to learn to suppress their emotions or to be ashamed of how they truly feel.
2. Talking About Emotions
My children need to know how to talk about their emotions and to express themselves. And I want them to always feel that they can talk to me about anything. I love them unconditionally and there is nothing that they can tell me that will make me love them any the less. This will lead to a closer relationship and my children knowing that they can always trust and rely on me.
3. Encouraging Our Children To Be Individuals
Mr H and I have always believed in encouraging our children to be individuals. We try to urge our children to know their own mind and to do what they believe is right in their hearts. When our children our teenagers and older, we hope that they won’t be swayed by peer pressure. Instead, we want them to listen to how they’re feeling and follow their gut instincts.
4. Building Healthy Relationships
When you have emotional intelligence then you can empathise and understand other human beings. You can feel their pain and have a desire to connect with them emotionally and help them through a hard time. This leads to healthy relationships and being able to consider the needs of others as well as your own.
5. Protecting Your Mental Health
Once you’ve learnt that emotions are an important part of being human then you can learn how to cope with how you’re feeling. And you can create tools and techniques to help you deal with these emotions. This is so valuable when it comes to looking after your mental health. As an important part of being mentally well is knowing how to look after yourself physically and mentally. And it’s knowing the difference between an ordinary emotion and signs that you may be experiencing mental ill health and need to see your GP.
How I plan to help my children develop emotional intelligence?
I may desperately want my children to be emotionally intelligent, but I often struggle to know how to help them cope with their feelings and emotions. I’m not a child psychologist and I’m the first to admit that the chores of daily life often mean that Little Miss and Little Mister H’s emotions are often the last things on my mind. Instead, I’m focused on making dinner or bath and bedtime.
Working With My First Emotions
Thankfully, I no longer need to worry about this, as the fantastic Skylark Learning has produced a wonderful resource called My First Emotions. Skylark Learning produce beautiful, high quality and engaging educational resources that help children to learn and develop. The My First Emotions Box is an innovative learning resource for children from 0 to 3 years and beyond. The box has been developed with psychologist Dr John Lambie (Reader in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge) and is designed to help children manage and understand their emotions. It does this through a fabulous range of interactive resources.
I’m hugely proud that over the next six months, Little Mister H and I will be working with Skylark Learning and we’ll be writing about our journey with My First Emotions. I’m so excited and already filled with passion for this fantastic and unique resource. I can’t wait to share with you how My First Emotions is helping my children to become emotionally intelligent.
How do you help your children to understand and cope with their emotions?
Over the next six months, I will be working in partnership with Skylark Learning to promote My First Emotions. However, as always, all words, opinions and images will be 100% my own and 100% honest. I’m hugely passionate about this resource and I’m proud to be able to bring you our journey with My First Emotions.