Learning to manage emotions: how to teach children
As adults, we must understand that all emotions, even the negatives, have a value and a teaching. Therefore, we must use our own emotions as an opportunity to teach our children to manage theirs and develop their emotional intelligence.
The Emotions are sensations and feelings that develop in our interior every day. As adults, we have learned to manage them, although not always correctly. However, if we want our children to develop a healthy emotional intelligence, we have to teach them how to express and control them in the best possible way.
There is a wide range of emotions. Although some make us feel better than others, they all contribute something to our life and personality. Emotional intelligence is learning to manage those emotions that are harder to deal with, such as anger and sadness.
"Identifying them, in the first place, to manage them later is the basis of emotional learning for children." We can begin to teach children to name emotions from around age 3. And one of the best methods to convey the keys to the emotional management of our children is through the example, "says Begoña Ibarrola, a psychologist and an expert in emotional education.
Emotional management for families
With the intention of protecting our children, adults tend to hide those events that we know can harm children. One of the things we hide the most is our emotions.
There is a belief that you always have to appear strong to appear before our children as superheroes who can do everything. But to insist on this makes us lose a great opportunity to teach our children to manage their emotions. Sometimes, vulnerability is much more valuable than any fortress.
In this sense, we should not repress negative emotions, but give them the value they deserve and the appropriate place within our day to day. Instead of hiding what we feel to prevent our children from becoming sad or angry with us, we should take these moments as "a wonderful opportunity to share an emotion with them", says Ibarrola.
Children learn a lot through example, by imitating model figures such as parents. Therefore, we must use situations such as the death of a relative to show our children how to deal with sadness, for example. The psychologist Begoña Ibarrola states that "in circumstances like these, it is natural that we are emotionally affected, there is no reason to hide this from the children, but we must share it with them and teach them strategies to get out of sadness or other difficult emotions."
5 tips to help our children manage emotions
Emotional intelligence is acquired, that is, it can be learned and taught. There are even experts who talk about emotional coefficient as a measure of emotional abilities. These are the tips that Begoña Ibarrola gives us to teach our children to manage emotions:
1. Help him express and talk about his emotions. Putting emotions out loud is a way for your child to learn to recognize them. Encourage him to tell you what he feels and try together to discover the source of that emotion.
2. Recognize the emotions of others. To develop emotional intelligence, your children should practice empathy. That is part of the importance of not hiding our own emotions from our children. Through practice, children will be able to identify facial expressions, body language and other traits that allow them to interact better with other people and build deep and beneficial relationships.
3. One method for each. Each child is different, and expresses and manages their emotions in a different way. It is important that we identify what is best for our children when managing negative emotions: listening to music, coloring, going to a quiet place, etc.
4. Emotions and learning. As we mentioned earlier, each emotion brings something into a person's life. Discuss with your children to discover together what they learned after experiencing some emotion.
5. Write and create stories. Together with your children, encourage yourself to write stories that reflect how different characters manage their emotions. Sometimes it is easier for children to understand emotions through the experiences of the protagonists of the story. Remember these stories to your children when you notice that it costs to manage an emotional situation.
Through simple tips like these and serving as an example to our children we can guide them in the management of their emotions and guide them to deal with them correctly, in the case that they are negative. Because, after all, as Ibarrola mentions, "it is very easy to enter into an emotion, that is why what you have to teach them is to get out of it".
Isabel López Vasquez
Advice: Begoña Ibarrola, psychologist and writer