Games and toys can be a toddler’s primary source of education. They engage children and teach them the value and joy of education. Games can also help improve some very specific competencies in a child’s development of their Emotional Quotient (EQ). Harvey Deutschendorf, an influential Emotional Intelligence (EI) thinker, says the educational benefits of games include “… increased cooperation with other students and teachers, increased self-awareness of their own thoughts and actions, and a noticeable increase in concern for other students and teachers.”
With the holiday season on the horizon, why not consider gifting toys that will help a child in your life with their EI development? Here are some games and toys that will help specific EI competencies such as:
This gender-neutral dollhouse is a great way for toddlers to explore interacting in a familial setting. Pretend games are especially helpful for improving a child’s social development. Doll houses can offer parents a perfect prop to introduce conversations about kindness, empathy, compassion, and a host of EI competencies. Staging pretend conversations with dolls is a great way to demonstrate what empathy can look like. By reenacting real-life situations, your child’s brain can begin formulating strategies on how to best approach those same situations later in life. This one from Hape is colorful, sturdy, and offers a wide range of settings and characters to explore.
LEGO has always been known for exceptional quality and stimulating creativity in toys for older children, but their DUPLO series is perfect for toddlers. The All-In-One Box’s large pieces and simple, colorful design combine creativity, life simulation, and counting. Children can begin by replicating what’s on the box, or they can deviate and create something on their own. EI and creativity are inextricably linked. Studies have repeatedly shown that creative people are high in EI and people with high EI are more creative. Part of the brilliance with LEGO is the freedom for exploration that they encourage. There are no “right answers” with LEGO; creation and imagination are paramount.
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably already aware of the products in the shop section of hoppypoppie.com. If not, then I highly recommend you check it out for gift ideas, as EI toys are my specialty. The Emotion Wristbands in particular are a great tool for beginning the path towards emotional self-awareness, one of the 12 core competencies of EI. Each wristband is color-coded to represent a different emotion and through the act of selecting and putting on wristbands, kids learn how to name their internal emotions and eventually, how those emotions manifest in their behavior and appearance. Additionally, by changing the feeling wristbands, toddlers and preschoolers learn the changing nature of emotions and how it feels to pass between them.
Not everything in life has to be a competition. Collaborating and working well with others is an integral part of being an emotionally intelligent adult, so why not start practicing early? Hoot Owl Hoot is just one of many cooperative board games out there, but its colorful, friendly theme and adaptability for different age groups set it apart from the rest. The game is simple to learn and requires children to work together to help owls get to their nest.
Whether you’re buying for your own toddler or someone else’s, these games all have something beneficial to offer. EI-focused education is showing up in pre-schools and Kindergartens everywhere. By starting a child with this material at a young age, you’re preparing them for what they’re going to see in school and later in life. I talked in my last article about the benefits of limiting screen time and these games all offer a fun, educational alternative to TV or YouTube. What are you all getting for your kids and which toys do you find they respond best to? I would love to know.