Historically, many parents and educators believed that when it came to social and emotional skills, you either got it or you don’t. But, that may not be the case. In fact, since the 1990s researchers have been looking at something they call Emotional Intelligence (EQ). EQ is the ability to recognize and regulate emotions in ourselves and others and there are five levels:
Self Awareness – being able to identify and say how they feel
Self Regulation – manage and work through emotions
Internal Motivation – persistence, working towards a self-determined goal
Empathy – understanding how others feel
Social Skills – interpersonal interaction
Educators have been using EQ research to develop school-based Social Emotional Learning programs or SEL for short. These programs can help kids develop techniques for when they feel stressed, teach them how to resolve conflict and practice skills like reframing, which, essentially means you try to see something from a different perspective.
All of these things are great, but short of becoming our kids’ psychotherapist, what can we do at home?
Here are some fun and easy ideas for helping our kids flex their EQ muscles and they don’t require a PhD to do:
Journaling (seen in video)
Journaling is a great way to not only get kids tuned into how their feeling, but squeeze in some writing work as well. All you need to get started is a book. We used composition books, but any type of blank book will work. Encourage kids to draw and doodle in their journal. Not only will it help them access their emotions (sometimes, it is hard to put into words how we feel), it’s great for kids who are pre-writers and emerging writers.
How do we see ourselves? This is a big question for all of us, kids especially. Encourage kids to draw themselves and write down all that’s unseen too—what they’re most proud of, what’s important to them. It’s a great rainy day exercise that helps reinforce a sense of self and the idea that there’s a lot more to someone than what you see on the outside. Click here to learn how to do this project at home.
It may not be strict Social Emotional Learning, but writing your child quick notes letting them know you’re thinking about them can help them feel better on rough days. Your kids may just surprise you and write you a sweet note back.