Emotional (or social) intelligence is a concept that has become commonly used relatively recently. If a classic and well-known IQ is referred to as IQ (intelligence quotient), then for emotional intelligence the abbreviation EI (emotional intelligence) is used, sometimes it is also referred to as EQ. Many psychologists and sociologists agree that EI is something that has a fairly serious impact on the quality of human life. Consequently, the development of emotional intelligence in a child should pay attention to.
What does emotional intelligence include?
The social intellectual level is a composite concept that includes several components. To better understand what it is and why your child needs it, let’s give a free description of the popular model of social and emotional intelligence, Reuven Bar-On (ESI), which includes fifteen abilities.
All components of ESI are divided into five groups, the first – the most extensive – concerns the intrapersonal capabilities:
- Self-esteem It involves understanding your strengths and weaknesses and accepting yourself with them. It does not exclude work on shortcomings, however, it assumes full respect for oneself as a person at the stage of development at which it is now located.
- Self-expression (and / or assertiveness). The essence of this ability is, first, to be able to clearly and clearly state your thoughts, desires, and emotional states. And secondly, it does not depend on the assessments of surrounding and external influences (naturally, within reasonable limits, because sometimes it is useful to listen to the environment).
- Emotional awareness. This is one of the most important components of emotional intelligence, for the development of which it makes sense to engage in improving EI in principle. It involves the ability to understand the feelings that arise in them and to trace the reasons for their appearance. That is, to live and act not “on a whim,” but with a deep understanding of your emotional sphere.
- Independence. Such a component may seem a bit like assertiveness, but in reality, it has a slightly different meaning. Independence is not the ability to resist external influence, but the ability to function (first of all – on an emotional level) without depending on other people.
- Self-actualization. The basis of this component is the absolutely natural desire of every person to develop. Self-actualization is the desire to realize their potential, setting relevant goals and their diligent achievement, a steady desire to become the best version of themselves.
The following group of abilities concerns interpersonal relationships:
- Empathy. This is the ability to recognize and understand the emotions that other people experience. This does not necessarily mean that if, for example, someone is crying, then a person with a high level of empathy should also cry – rather, he should understand that pain, or resentment, or frustration, or some other feeling that caused tears.
- Interpersonal relationships. In the context of ESI, they are understood as the ability to establish verbal and non-verbal contacts, to create and maintain relationships, including mutual understanding and emotional intimacy, and, in general, the ability to socialize comfortably.
- Social responsibility. It, along with the ability to fit into society, includes the development of a sense of responsibility for other people, morality, morality, the ability to cooperate with and lead others.
Ability to adapt
The following group of abilities, the improvement of which, including the development of emotional intelligence, is aimed at adaptive abilities:
- Evaluation of reality. This ability is not only to live within their experiences, to realize and understand them, but also to reasonably correlate them with objectively existing reality.
- Flexibility. It implies the ability to adapt to the environment and circumstances: in terms of behavior, experienced emotions, to some extent – even a way of thinking. In this indicator, it is very important to observe the “middle ground”.
- Problem-solving. This ability includes several components at once. First, the ability to understand and articulate a specific problem. Secondly, the ability to find the most rational solution to this problem. And finally, thirdly, the ability to act effectively in accordance with the chosen decision.
Among the abilities that are part of emotional intelligence, are those associated with the mood:
- Happiness. Under this name hides the ability to be happy, inspired, cheerful, the ability to love other people and life. Happiness is a state of the soul that depends, first of all, on the person himself.
- Optimism. This component involves the development of emotional intelligence to maintain a positive attitude, hope, and faith in the best even in quite difficult circumstances; consider difficulties as new opportunities.
Exit from stressful situations
The last group of components of emotional intelligence is those abilities that are related to stress management:
- Pulse control. It is, in fact, self-discipline – the ability to resist momentary temptations in order to achieve the desired result in the long term.
- Stress resistance. Such an extensive concept in the context of ESI means, first of all, the ability to manage your negative emotions and not dive into their abyss.
Refusal of emotional closeness
The first and most important aspect of the development of emotional intelligence in children is close attention to emotions as such. It includes various nuances and techniques that should become your everyday practice:
- Understanding and voicing your emotions. The child learns something, in one of the first lines, through repetition for the parents. Therefore, you should demonstrate the importance of awareness of your emotions and not be shy to pronounce them. If you are angry because a child skipped school, or are delighted with how well he picked up the colors for his drawing, be sure to say so.
- Talk about emotions as a natural state of affairs. An atmosphere should be created in your family in which the child will not be afraid to say what he feels. In which he will be able to count on understanding and support, on helping to sort out his emotions and their causes. For adults, it is absolutely clear that if a friend leaves to play with another friend, this can cause offense and jealousy. The child needs to explain this, as well as the fact that he should not be ashamed of his feelings.
- Accepting emotions as equally important. It is clear that with the growth and development it is useful to learn to somewhat mitigate negative experiences, but the child should not form an idea of some emotions as “good”, and about others – as “bad”, “forbidden”. Otherwise, he will try to suppress the latter in himself, and instead of understanding the sources of his feelings, it will only get stronger in them.
- Vivid manifestations of positive emotions. Teach your child to be happy about something, to be happy because of something (even if it is a trifle) – this is normal and very healthy. Such things should not be brought to fanaticism, but still, if something pleases you – enjoy it, and set an appropriate example for children.
Reading, inventing and discussing fairy tales
Fairy tales are perfect for the development of emotional intelligence in preschool children. With their use, you can conduct classes in two main formats:
- Reading tales and discussion of characters, their emotional state, their actions. In the process of such a conversation, you can raise issues of morality and ethics, responsibility for their actions, as well as for other people/characters.
- Coming up your own tales to work out any emotions. If it’s about fear, you can come up with your kid with your own horrible monster, a sad story of how he reached this life, and a way to turn him into a kind and happy character. Or, for example, to work out an insult, it is useful to come up with a conflict situation in which both parties will be right in their own way and understand the position of each of them.
When a child gets older, instead of fairy tales, you can use movies, fiction, painting – that is closer to him. Do not be afraid to start talking about feelings, responsibility, and morality with adolescents: children of this age even include the “prickly hedgehog” mode in response to all attempts to teach them, but still, need help from their elders in the development of their worldview.
This is also an option for preschoolers; it is primarily about various role-playing games: in the hospital, in the store, even in the beauty salon. When a child plays something like this, you can add unobtrusive learning to the ability to listen to the needs of other people, understand their feelings, and empathize with them.
It is also useful to pay attention when a child plays with peers: for example, to offer to share toys with other children, to teach politely to ask permission to play with other people’s dolls/cars/ tins, to seek compromises in conflict situations, and so on. You should not just look distractedly at children’s games when they can smoothly integrate such simple but at the same time very important exercises in the context of the development of emotional intelligence.
Orders and examples
These are ways of teaching empathy and responsibility that are suitable for children of any age. Go to the store, help with cleaning, sit with the younger brother/sister – with such things you should not overdo it, but you should not underestimate their importance for the development of emotional intelligence. In addition, you must always remember that the child looks at you and assimilates your behavior patterns. So do not be lazy to once again hold the door to a neighbor with bags in both hands, hug a crying girlfriend, make a remark to children who tear off the spider’s legs – even if you are tired and would very much like to treat this with indifference.
Thus, the development of emotional intelligence in a child is not such a difficult task, which is definitely worth spending your time and efforts on it.