“Empathy builds on self-awareness; the more open we are to our own emotions, the more skilled we will be in reading feelings.” – Daniel Goleman
Teaching children about emotions is as important – if not more – as teaching how to speak, read or walk. Research has shown that children who are better at understanding their emotions, grow up to become better communicators, are more empathetic, have a better set of social skills and are more likely to form healthy relationships and bonds.
What having a high Emotional Quotient looks like;
- Increased awareness of one’s emotions – Children are more aware about the intensity, type as well as the quantity of emotions they are experiencing.
- Increased awareness of others’ emotions – Children develop skills that help them find out and understand what emotion others are feeling based on external cues like expressions or situations.
- In-depth and increased vocabulary – Have you seen your child get baffled when asked how they are feeling? This is either because they don’t know what it is they are feeling or they don’t know how to articulate their thoughts. Emotional intelligence helps children develop a wider range of vocabulary that encourages them to gather the necessary skills to help them communicate what they are feeling more accurately.
- Empathy & Sympathy – How many adults do you know who can correctly differentiate between sympathy and empathy? This is because we were never taught how important it is to segregate between the two. Empathy is understanding what others are feeling, while sympathy is to feel pity for others. EQ allows your child to not only understand this difference but also become more empathetic towards others.
- More Resourceful – An emotionally healthy child is more likely to deal with challenges better. Instead of letting their emotions take over them, they become the master of their own well-being. EQ provides them with the required skills to cope more flexibly with changes.
Parents role in developing EI
Lessons in empathy and emotional intelligence for children can and should begin as early as during infancy. Since you, as parents/caregivers, are the first ever human interaction in your child’s life, it is needless to say that their journey towards becoming emotionally healthy individuals should also begin with you. Though some emotional skills are sharpened through other relationships that the child develops over time – such as friendships – emotionally skilled parents can do much more to help children develop the basics such as learning how to recognize, manage, and harness their feelings; empathize, and handle feelings that arise in other relationships.
In conclusion, amidst the hustle-bustle of excelling academically, one often tends to overlook the importance of developing emotions. However, understanding and putting the components of emotions into action thoughtfully and intentionally can make a drastic difference in not just your child’s life, but those around them as well.
Emotions: Emotional development in childhood | Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development (child-encyclopedia.com)