Teaching Emotional Intelligence In Early Childhood

Group Of Children Enhancing Their Social Skills

As parents or carers, we’re aware of the weight our actions carry, which can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on us to be perfect around our children. But raising a child isn’t about showing them how to be perfect - after all, that’s impossible. It’s about teaching them that not everything will always go their way and showing them how they can deal with and process their emotions better. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of teaching emotional intelligence and how you can introduce this into their early childhood years.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

First, let’s start by defining what emotional intelligence is. Emotional intelligence is a set of skills we develop that allow us to monitor and regulate our own emotions alongside the emotions of others. It offers us the ability to use our emotions to guide our thinking and actions. Given that emotions play such a large role in our lives, impacting our attention, memory and learning ability, being able to regulate these emotions is a crucial skill to develop from a young age.

Emotional Intelligence In Children

There are clear signs of emotional intelligence in children that you and your child’s teachers will want to look out for. Some of these signs are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Motivation
  • Self-regulation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

In other terms, ask yourself these questions: does your child notice when another child is upset? Do they understand how their actions impact another person? Can they control intense emotions to avoid outbursts in a public space? Can they calm themselves down once upset? These are all ways to understand the level at which your child is displaying emotional intelligence.

It's important to teach emotional intelligence to children for many reasons. It's reported that children with higher emotional intelligence are better able to pay attention along with being more engaged in school. Socially, it will help them to have more positive relationships and be more empathetic, which will improve their overall behaviour and social understanding.

How To Teach Emotional Intelligence In Early Childhood

There are numerous ways to teach emotional intelligence in early childhood and this can be implemented at school and at home. Emotions can be a scary concept, so by helping a child to visualise them, you're helping them to understand themselves better. Things such as emotion charts or metres are good visual aids.

You can assign levels of emotions to colours and encourage children to place themselves on the scale. For example, green at the top of the scale might signify joy or excitement while red at the bottom could indicate anger or sadness. With the help of an emotions chart, children can communicate appropriately with others about their feelings.

Another way is through the RULER acronym, a set of tasks and questions that can be done at school or at home that help children develop skills in empathy. It looks like this:

  • RECOGNISE: How is the character feeling?
  • UNDERSTAND: What happened that has made them feel that way?
  • LABEL: Where would you put this character on a mood metre?
  • EXPRESS: How did they act when they felt like this?
  • REGULATE: What did the character do to help this/what could you do to help?

Emotional intelligence is an essential life skill that will shape children as people and directly impact their relationships as adults. It’s important to help any children in your care improve these skills sooner rather than later. For more advice on how to support a child’s early years education, explore more of our blogs at Jacaranda Early Education.