The Importance Of Teaching Children Emotional Intelligence

The Importance Of Teaching Children Emotional Intelligence

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that education is the most important part of a child’s development. From the moment they are born they are learning about the world. Of course, it isn’t until they start to grow that they can actually understand and comprehend the things they are learning. And it is at this point that they usually will enter into a schooling system.

But there is one huge problem facing the current education systems. And it is one that has become compounded over hundreds of years. And that is the idea that education is all about facts and knowledge. But this is a dangerous assertion. In our quest to ensure our children are getting the best education possible, we have pushed aside the importance of nurturing their emotional intelligence. But what is emotional intelligence? And why is it so important to teach our children about it?

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability for someone to understand, not only their own emotions, but the emotions of others as well. Now this might seem quite obvious, but it is important to realize that there is a huge difference between knowing what an emotion is and understanding it. Especially for a child.

For example, a child could very easily know what anger is. If their parent has shouted at them after they did something naughty. But they most likely won’t understand why that parent is angry. Instead they will associate their parents’ reaction with the physical thing they did. And this is where the issues start. But we will touch on this more later.

Why It Is Important

If you examine a traditional school curriculum you will see a lot of subjects that, while important, aren’t necessarily useful for every child. It is very important that children learn the basics of science. But continuing to learn chemistry into their teenage years won’t be useful for a child who is more inclined towards acting or writing. And, in the same way, studying geography won’t be super useful for a student who is leaning more towards a more mathematical career.

But emotional intelligence is always important. Because, unlike a lot of subjects, it is something humans have to use every second of their life. Even if they are most introverted, it is vitally important that they can understand and process their own emotions.

Emotional Intelligence is the basis by which humans interact with one another. It is the foundation for everything from basic manners to the entire field of psychology. Yet our school systems virtually ignore it. And the damage it is causing is already very noticeable.

Mental Health Issues

As a society we have gained a better understanding of mental health than ever before. And, sadly, we are also seeing the highest rate of mental health issues in people than ever before. Some of this can be attributed to the state of the world. But we believe that most of it can be traced back to the severe lack of emotional intelligence of people.

Earlier we made the point about how a child would associate anger with a certain action, rather than fully understanding the emotion. And this is the foundation of a lot of mental health issues. Without proper emotional education, people will grow up associating their emotions with exclusively outside stimuli. But it isn’t as simple as that.

The emotions we feel can be based on a huge number of factors. And some of these factors we might not even be aware of without giving ourselves time to process our feelings. And this is how a lot of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, are formed. A person might assume they are upset because they got shouted at by a customer at work, which is upsetting to be sure. But it could be that they are actually upset because of an unresolved issue in their past.

Teaching Emotional Intelligence

Teaching emotional intelligence is something that should start the moment a child is born. It is both a passive and active education. It is passive in the way that children will learn emotional intelligence from observing your behavior. The mantra ‘Treat others how you want to be treated’ is a prime example of this idea.

Active emotional education is a very vast field. There are many different ways to go about it. The most effective ways are using various techniques such as avoiding negative reactions, using positive reinforcement, encouraging a child to meditate and finding ways to express their emotions. This last one is especially important as not everyone expresses their emotions in the same way. What works for one person won’t work for another.

For example, one child might express their emotions with their words, while another might only be able to express their emotions through art. Allowing a child to experiment with different methods of emotional expression will prepare them for adult life. Have them explore different mediums such as poetry, dance, beautiful love quotes, drawing, journaling, working out. Eventually they will find a method that clicks with them.

The most important thing to instill in children is an understanding of how empathy works. Most people naturally feel empathy, but not everyone understands it. So it can be confusing to children when they are suddenly sad because someone else is. If they don’t learn to comprehend empathy, it can become quite debilitating for them in later life.

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