One important thing that the memes demonstrate is that children, like the ones in these memes, have yet to develop their emotional intelligence. Meaning, children, and oftentimes adults, struggle to be aware of emotions, understand emotions, express their emotions, or self-regulate in appropriate ways.
Just like the children in the memes, we are all born with the need to increase our emotional intelligence, but are given little information on what emotional intelligence is and how to develop it. Yet, if we do not develop our ability to recognize and regulate our emotions, understand perspective taking, and have empathy towards others, life will be challenging. As you continue reading, you will learn more about emotional intelligence and a creative way to build your child’s emotional intelligence, specifically through story time.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
Throughout your life, IQ, or intelligence quotient, is something with which you have probably become familiar. IQ is a much talked about topic that helps us understand someone’s intellectual abilities. But, what about EQ, or the emotional intelligence quotient? Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to recognize and manage their own emotions, as well as others, and use that awareness to solve problems. A prominent psychologist and a New York Times bestselling author, David Goleman, would argue with supported research that EQ is more important and a better predictor of success than IQ. Goleman states that children who develop their emotional intelligence are far more likely to become better communicators, which allows for them to build stronger relationships with others, be more compassionate, and problem solve tough situations within groups. Overall, children who develop their EQ are more likely to become influential leaders.
Now that we have an understanding of emotional intelligence, you may be wondering, “How can I support my child and when should I start?” Creating a foundation of emotional awareness for subsequent EQ development can begin at any age. There are simple strategies that you can use to develop your child’s EQ, starting at birth, or perhaps beginning after you finish this article. One specific strategy we will discuss is using something that is readily available, whether at home, at school, or online - - BOOKS!
STORY TIME AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Books can be amazing tools for building EQ for both children and adults at any age. Below, you will find a helpful process to begin using reading as a fun tool for EQ development.
- Pick a Most books, if not all, can support EQ development. The most important aspect is that you and your child view the book as fun and enjoyable! The more you and your child enjoy this process together, the more likely your child will connect with the book. For kids who have not yet begun to read, including babies, the simple act of reading a book together is beneficial to EQ development! It is also important to pick a book that is at your child’s developmental level, which will allow for them to connect to the material. If you are having a hard time thinking of a book to choose, think about what you want your child to learn and run a google search. Try, “children’s books on frustration”, or check out this link that will give you a helpful list of book ideas for children.
- Read the book together out Find a comfy space at home where you and your child feel relaxed. Lower the lights and snuggle up with each other. Physical contact at this part can enhance the overall experience for the both of you. If your child is learning to read, you two may choose to read aloud together. However, it is not necessary that your child be able to read aloud with you.
- Take time to pause and ask Here is the part where the EQ development can be in full force. Throughout the pages in the book find places to pause and talk through the scenes.
Ask questions and help your child connect their experiences to the book. Some sample questions you might ask are:
» “Look at [this character’s face, what do you think he/she is feeling?”
» “Have you ever felt the same way as [the character]?”
» “Can you think of ways [the character] might solve this problem?”
» “Aw, look, he’s sad. I have felt sad before. It can be hard sometimes when we are sad. What makes you sad?”
» “What might her friend be feeling after [the character] made the choice to make fun of her?”
» “How would you solve [the character’s] problem?”
What if my child does not want to answer questions? That is okay! If they are not in the mood to answer questions, but are willing to read along, their learning will continue. Same goes for you as the parent, if you have had a long day, give yourself permission to just enjoy the story itself without processing questions.
Helpful Tip. These questions may not be appropriate for your child’s developmental stage. Try pointing out emotions the characters are feeling (i.e., “Aw, look! He is happy he got his toy back!”) Or make statements about what is happening in the story such as, “Look she asked an adult for help, what a great way to solve a problem!” Statements such as these will help a child at any developmental stage read their EQ potential!
- Be silly! When we allow ourselves to be silly with our children, the experience can be incredibly fulfilling. Give the characters voices and act out the scenes Bring the story to life in your own home!
- End with a learning A discussion at the end is not necessary for kids to develop their EQ. However, if your child is at a developmental stage where they can discuss the topics in the book, try a review at the end. Take 2-3 minutes at the end and ask processing questions like, “Sometimes we both get frustrated, what did [the character] teach us to do when we get frustrated?”, or “What are two feelings [the character felt]? Can you show me the feelings using your body?” These few minutes can help solidify the points that you want your child to learn.
Helpful Tip: If you are finding that the books you own do not pinpoint the exact topic you would like to work on with your child, try going on to YouTube and searching for the book you have in mind. There are lots of books on YouTube that are read allowed by people, including celebrities and the authors themselves. A great place to start is the YouTube channel StorylineOnline. Also, be sure to check out the channels, Mr Crimans and Social Sprouts. One last great resource for
online reading material is Epic! Books for Kids.
- Throughout the process of implementing storytime and developing your child’s EQ, be kind to yourself as the Allow yourself to feel and let your child see you feel those emotions. Reading books is only one way to build emotional intelligence. Going through your day to day life with your child, you can build their EQ by acknowledging their emotions through validation and empathy, labeling their emotions, and allowing them to solve problems within limits. Also, understand that you do not have to go about EQ development on your own! You may consider finding a trusted therapist to provide you with helpful guidance on EQ development.
At Carolina Pediatric Therapy, there is a team of behavioral health therapists who are trained to support families in developing skills such as, self-regulation, problem solving, and perspective taking.
To schedule an appointment with a trusted therapist at Carolina Pediatric Therapy, call 828.398.0043.
ADRIENNE STOVER, LCMHC is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with Carolina Pediatric Therapy. She is part of an interprofessional collaborative team including behavioral health, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech- language pathologists, and psychologists dedicated to supporting and promoting children’s development and well being.
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