Self-control and emotional intelligence, child thing?

Emotional regulation is a faculty that we can teach our children from three years, to grow up as healthy and happy adults. The self-control of emotions can be trained through positive strategies such as the identification and expression of emotions, in order to develop emotional intelligence.

Regulating emotions: a slow but possible process

Emotional intelligence is an aptitude on which the healthy development of our children depends. And, self-control is one of its characteristics. Normally, we relate this trait as something that belongs to adults, but the regulation and management of emotions can begin to train in children from three years, as Begoña Ibarrola, a psychologist and expert in Emotional Education, points out.


Self-control is a skill that depends on the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Usually, it ends up maturing when people are in their twenties. But, its development can begin to be enhanced from childhood, from the moment when children control their sphincters. It is possible, then, to train our children in the channeling and emotion management, in order that they develop their emotional intelligence and grow as healthy and happy adults.

However, we can not expect our children to be masters of emotional intelligence. "We can not demand that they control themselves and know how to behave at all times," Ibarrola states. Do not forget that their brains are in the process of maturation, so we must go little by little. Here are some tips for you to start educating your children in self-control, so that in the future they can be experts in emotional regulation.


Legitimize emotions and identify them

It is very important to legitimize emotion, to teach children to identify what they feel and to make them understand that emotions are not something negative. "Children are much smarter than we think, they know perfectly well that emotion is not an indefinite state, but a place of passage, a changing element," says Ibarrola.

Express emotions with words

Second, we should encourage our children to express emotions with words. "One of the most explosive is anger," says the psychologist. Children often kick, cry, bite, etc. as a way to let people know what they feel. It is good to remind them that although it is normal to get angry, it is much better and more productive to express it through words.

We can use example sentences so that they can imitate them, such as: "I am angry because ...". We can also make use of games for our children to practice expressing their emotions, using toys and story characters to interpret scenes in which words must be used to express what they feel.


In fact, Ibarrola thinks that the stories are a first-rate resource in the development of emotional intelligence. "Through a symbolic and metaphorical language, children understand many processes that are sometimes complex to explain with words.The story is like an emotional trainer, because the child identifies with the characters and their experiences, but with a distance of security, which allows you to anticipate situations that he is not living in his day to day, but the characters in the story do. "

A positive strategy to educate

Another way to educate emotional regulation, Ibarrola tells us, is to follow a positive strategy. That is, focus on offering and teaching what can be done to an emotion, instead of highlighting what should be avoided. We usually emphasize what the child should not do: "do not get angry", "do not scream"; but you have to suggest to them what they can do when, for example, they get angry.

We must also apply this when it comes to solving behavioral problems. Instead of just establishing punishments and prohibitions, we should try to find a positive alternative. For example, if a child presents an aggressive attitude every time a game starts because he / she wants to always be the first to participate, we can make a list in which is written who will have the first turn each day. Thus, unnecessary battles will be avoided.

A lot of patience to get self-control of emotions

Finally, it is essential to be patient. The brain structure responsible for the self-control of our children will be in development until they are in their twenties. For this reason, we will have to repeat the rules and advice over and over again, calmly, so that our children can develop their emotional intelligence.

Self-control is a thing of children. As parents, we aim for our children to grow up to become healthy and happy people, and to begin to train them in emotional regulation is possible from a very young age.Thus, children can understand what emotions are and learn to express them in the best possible way, through words, stories and games. A positive teaching strategy will serve as training so that they can develop the self-control that will be so useful in their adult life.

Isabel López Vasquez
Advice: Begoña Ibarrola, psychologist specializing in Emotional Intelligence.

Video: Why Do We Lose Control of Our Emotions?


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