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Three Tools for Teaching Emotional Intelligence (EI) at a Young Age

By Renée Adams

September 18, 2020

emotional intelligence, empathy, learning, mindfulness, recognizing emotions, teaching, Tools

Your child will benefit greatly from a head start on learning emotional intelligence (EI) and mindfulness. Here are three tools you can use for teaching EI and mindfulness at a young age.

Getting your child started with some of the basic concepts of EI/mindfulness at an early age will put them ahead on a lifelong journey. Even if they cannot grasp the full meaning of these concepts now, in time and with repeated exposure to these ideas, they will interpret them in their own way. If you’re coming to this article from my last post, The Benefits of Early EI Education, then you’re aware of the benefits of learning EI at an early age.

But you’re probably wondering what you can do right now to help your child begin their journey of learning emotional intelligence and mindfulness.

Recognizing Emotions

Because emotions are abstract, they can be difficult for young children to grasp. I recommend starting with identifying physical sensations before moving on to emotions. Treat this lesson as a gateway into being aware of emotions in the present moment without judgment and how they might relate to physical sensations like pain and pleasure. During your child’s next bath time, ask your child how the hot water makes their body feel or how being clean makes them feel. See if they have an emotional association with bath time and have a conversation with your child that includes naming the emotion(s) that they’re experiencing. It’s important to begin building your child’s emotion vocabulary. This will help them identify other emotions with physical sensations and help them make the connection that emotions can dictate how we physically act and interact with the world.

Managing Emotions

This one can be especially difficult for young children as identifying emotions can already be a challenge. Our main strategy here is to simply communicate with your child next time they act out or something doesn’t go their way. Discuss how they felt when this negative event happened and work on finding a more desirable outcome in the future. This will help them begin to understand what they have control over and what is out of their control, a necessary step in teaching EI.

Becoming Empathic and Compassionate

Empathy is one of the cornerstones of high EI and giving your child insight into what empathy looks like in the real world will do wonders for their development. Next time you volunteer, bring a gift to the neighbors, or do some other act of kindness, bring your child with you or involve them in other ways that makes sense and talk to them about how others might be feeling as well as how your actions have positively affected someone else’s well being. Your child will have a memory they can associate with empathy/compassion and begin to understand how they can make a difference in other people’s lives.

Using these strategies, we can begin a process that will follow your child through their life. But the sooner you start them down this road, the sooner they will begin to see the many positive effects on their emotional well-being, their level of academic and professional success, and their personal relationships with others. Beginning to teach your child mindfulness and EI at an early age is really one of the best things you can do for them as a parent.

If you’d like to learn more about teaching EI to your child, visit my website, calminyourpalm.com, and look for the popup in order to receive my free starter guide.

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