Four Ways to Teach Children Emotional Maturity BY JODI HEALY
Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are. What you do with them, however, usually makes them right or wrong. With children this can be a challenge because self-control is an ever-evolving part of growing up. The emotional energy a child experiences can be overwhelming — from stubbing their toe in pain, angst over taking the bus for the first time, experiencing their first succulent taste of ice cream, to a sibling ripping a toy out of their hand. Life is fundamentally a crux of positive and negative energy, and young children have not yet developed adult filters or control. This can cause lashing out, crying fits, temper tantrums, fighting, or the opposite — exploding with excitement, jumping up and down, and yelling in a store. Emotional maturity and mastery comes from being able to confidently recognize, acknowledge, experience, and properly manage all types of emotion. The topic of emotional intelligence first became popular in 1995, with The New York Times bestselling book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Ph.D. He is also the author of Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. There are many models of emotional intelligence, often comprised of four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. This has become a popular field of study and research by top educators and leaders. Many believe emotional intelligence is more important than IQ for success. According to Talent Smart, 90% of high performers at the workplace possess high EQ, while 80% of low performers have low EQ. Reason and consequence evolve as children grow, and they need guidance, encouragement, and support to help navigate and develop their emotions based on different situations they experience.
1. Talking & sharing Having conversations and simply talking to a child is a powerful way to teach emotional maturity. Being able to express yourself is not only a powerful skill, but it also puts the responsibility on how you feel and why on “you,” empowering a child to deal with any situation from a place of clarity and confidence (and not as a victim). 50 AUGUST2017
As you put your child to bed, or at another quiet time of the day, ask your child about their day and the experiences they had. Hear what they did, what they want to talk about, what they liked or didn’t like, or what they want to share, good or bad. Open a dialogue daily, so they are free to say what they think or feel in a safe place and learn to enjoy and share the myriad feelings they have. If your child is not a big talker (some are and
some aren’t), an alternative activity is reading. When reading, see if your child would feel the same in the same circumstances as the characters. Being able to express ourselves freely and without judgement (be who we are) is what we all yearn for, especially children — unconditional love!
2. Detach with love When talking with your child, detach
with love. Just listen! Do not try to fix, control, or change the child’s feelings or experience. I know this is hard as a parent, especially if our child is in pain or suffering! We want to fix it. But allow them to express what they are thinking and feeling, without judgment. Often, we just need someone to vent to, to listen to us, to witness us. Usually, once we burn off the energy (positive or negative), we can think clearly. It is easier to deal with an