Each morning before I sit down to write, I take a quick glance through my Facebook feed, catching up on friend news for the day when I came across this adorably humorous 3 minute video that served as a reminder of the importance of teaching our kids social and emotional intelligence as well as academic skills.
The above served as a wonderful way to start a new day but also served as an important reminder about why teaching compassion, empathy, and kindness are so critical.
With a new school year on the horizon, we’re gathering school supplies, checking to make sure fall clothes will fit when the weather turns, and wondering what our child(ren)’s experience at school will be like this year. We’re thinking about the math facts and writing skills they’ll be learning and hoping that they’ll be able to navigate friendships without too many tears.
Along with academics, it’s so important that kids learn social and emotional intelligence (EQ) but like other skills, EQ. Because don’t we all need more honesty, high fives, and corn dogs in our lives?
Why emotional intelligence is important
“Kids who can regulate their own emotions are sensitive to the cues of others, and able to empathize, or feel something from the other person’s point of view. That allows them to work through emotionally charged issues in a constructive way, so they have better interpersonal relationships and their lives work better.”
—From The Mother Company’s Forget IQ: 5 Ways to Boost Emotional Intelligence
According to research by EQ expert, Daniel Goleman, emotional and social skills can be taught to help our kids able to understand and identify feelings in themselves and others, manage their moods, set goals and persevere, demonstrate empathy, and navigate relationships.* Sam belie, building our kids’ emotional muscles helps them expand their capacity to handle hard things.
How do we teach compassion, empathy, and to be kind human beings?
We model the kinds of behavior we expect.
We’re nice and they learn to be nice back. It seems so easy but how many times do we lose our temper or respond in a way that we regret after words come out of our mouths? I know I’m guilty. Even though I apologize, I’m horrified when they display the exact behaviors I have. Kids will act out what they see. If they see us acting badly towards one another, they will doo.
We exercise patience.
Easier said than done, right? In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to stay cool, calm, and collected to respond in a way that demonstrates the kinds of behavior we expect from our kids. The Mother Company agrees: “Most of us keep it together fairly well until we’re upset at our child and start disciplining.”
We listen to our kids.
As a #TalkEarly ambassador advocating a lifetime of conversations around the topics of underage drinking, I’ve come to realize that the concept of Talk Early applies to more than just alcohol. I’ve always been a fan of seizing teachable moments and talking to my kids but talk is cheap unless we’re really listening to them and having meaningful conversations. Sit down, look them in the eye, and show them they have your full attention and you understand. Understanding their perspective helps validate their feelings and helps us have more conscious conversations that contribute to the development of their EQ. Kids are surprising in that they can understand far more than we give them credit for so have those heart to hearts with them from a young age. It makes a difference.
We teach resiliency by providing strategies.
Conscious conversations and showing our kids we understand them allows them to learn problem solving strategies. I remember when our daughter was in preschooler and her toddler brother used to come in like Godzilla and destroy her block towers! She was so mad! Helping her approach him to and nudging her to find words to express her frustration was an intentional problem solving strategy that we practiced together whenever the blocks fell. Eventually she became more independent at telling him how she felt and hasn’t stopped! While toddlers and preschoolers often need a helping hand from parents, teaching them to communicate and problem solve are lifelong skills that are essential for all kids to have as they grow.
We use quality educational content to reinforce what we’re trying to teach them at home through a variety of different resources.
The Mother Company- A company for moms, by moms, I can say by having worked with founders, Abbie Schiller and Sam Kurtzman-Counter, that they have fabulous resources for families. From insightful articles with expert advice and parental wisdom that help take some of the stress out of everyday parenting, kid-friendly books that teach topics like feelings, friendship, and safety, DVDs, and downloadable segments providing on-the-go learning that redefine screen time, The Mother Company’s products are all around amazing for toddlers and up, and parents too.
Netflix— Each month I provide a list of recommendations of content to stream from Netflix and I couldn’t be happier that this month’s titles promote kindness and respect towards others that are perfect to start watching this weekend as you head back to school.
Besides modeling and having age appropriate conversations with preschoolers and toddlers, this age group enjoys learning with characters they love. Here are some shows to stream featuring favorites for this age range:
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Vol. 1 Ep. 6: Friends Help Each Other
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Season 3, Ep. 4: One Bad Apple
- Arthur, Season 15, Ep. 8: Muffy’s Classic Classy Club / Best Enemies
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Super Why, Season 1, Ep. 61: The Ugly Duckling: Becoming a Swan
- The Fox and the Hound
Continue to reinforce EQ in older kids through these titles but check Common Sense Media first to ensure they’re just right for your family:
I know I’m far from being a perfect parent but since perfection is overrated, I’m going to focus on taking a deep breath, continuing to seize the moment to have conscious conversations, and modeling the way I expect my kids to act so when the go out in the world, they exhibit kindness, compassion, and empathy towards others. Baby steps, right?
*From Social and Emotional Learning: What is it? How can we use it to help our children by Dr. Robin Stern on AboutOurKids.org
This post was inspired by Netflix. No compensation was received but my family does enjoy a complimentary Netflix subscription and other items for my involvement as a Netflix Stream Team Member. Images courtesy of Netflix.