Saturday, 2nd December 2023

Emotional intelligence breeds smarter kids

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
05 September 2020   |   4:14 am
Emotional intelligence helps children understand themselves and others better while communicating and handling unpleasant feelings.

Photo credit: Huffpost

Emotional intelligence helps children understand themselves and others better while communicating and handling unpleasant feelings.

For emotions doctor and Founder of Emotions City, Oyinkansola Alabi, emotional intelligence simply means being smart with your feelings just the same way you are smart with your finances by saving and investing or smart with your health by exercising and watching what you eat.

She said kids need to master their emotions, because it is better to build a child than to repair an adult, just as adults too experience emotions, because emotions do not respect age.

On the role of parenting in managing emotions of their kids, Alabi noted that people who are hurt further hurt others. “So, we suggest parents learn how to master their emotions first, so they can teach, guide and help their children recognise and regulate theirs.

‘If parents don’t learn how to, children mirror what they see. So, if a child lives with angry parents, he/she will learn to manifest anger.”

To help your kids manage their emotions, be open to them. Transparent communication is a crucial tool in the development of a child who is strong and solid in his/her beliefs. Be honest and open with your child and explain your decisions and requests to them. This should, in turn, encourage them to open up to you.

Show affection, even though some parents worry that being overly affectionate might make our children too needy, because it actually helps them feel safe and can boost their self-esteem.

While it is also important to give your children a well-deserved part of your time after a long and hectic day at work, because your child is likely to discuss his/her emotions with you if he/she is sure you show some interests.

Parents should not downplay the feelings of their kids, while tantrums and moods should not be taken for just a phase in childhood, as there can be underlying issues we may never find out; hence being sensitive to your child’s behaviour is key.

Taking a break from devices, especially for infants, is necessary, as studies have proven that excess use of devices contribute to depression, anxiety and poor sleep quality.

While parents should make it a priority to ensure that screen and handheld devices exposure is reduced, they should also set an example by putting away their device, so their kids can imitiate.

Meditate together, even though it seems like an activity for adults. Being mindful and meditating can benefit the whole family, especially children under pressure from exams and modern lifestyle. So, find a quiet space and encourage your children to focus on slow, deep breaths and bond.

On key values children stand to gain from mastering their emotions, Alabi said children would learn how to recognise, understand, label, express and regulate their emotions; hence with emotional intelligence programme for kids, she is dedicating the entire month of September to children at Emotions City, “because we are aware that every terrorist, rapist or icon was once a child.

“If children live with hostility, they learn to fight, if they live with empathy and compassion, they learn to be human.”