This is my first article for Parent-Edge Magazine, India. It am reposting it with permission from them: http://parentedge.in/blogs/activities-to-build-your-childs-emotional-quotient/
This blog post has been contributed by our new Parent Blogger Rima Desai. Rima has a Masters Degree in Psychology from Mumbai University. She wrote numerous articles for Parents, Women and creating Self-Awareness in a leading newspaper in Tanzania when she lived there. Her work includes writing for in-flight magazines and editing internationally published books. Rima is a certified Childcare Professional and Life-Coach in USA. She has extensive experience in training teachers, students and holding camps for children (3-9 years).
Activities to Develop Your Child’s Emotional I.Q. from an early age
There is a lot of talk that goes on about parenting and emotions. The importance of developing an emotionally robust child cannot be undermined. Your child may grow up to be a doctor, engineer, or a computer programmer, but that is not enough to safeguard her personal life, and the ability to communicate and express herself. This skill of free emotional expression is needed at every step of relationships, career, and for high self-worth. Now, you have an opportunity to be their emotion coach!
Run your eyes over these activities that will help you enhance your child’s EQ. These activities would work well for children between the ages of 3-8, depending on their emotional maturity.
Quick challenge: In two minutes pen down as many emotions (just one word each) as you can. Note that some emotion clusters like joy, happy and glad are the same type of emotion.
How many emotions did you spurt out easily? Not many of us are generous with our emotional vocabulary because we haven’t been taught to recognize, discover, and word our emotions. In reality, we experience more than 50+ emotions and often several of them in the same day. Here is a short list:
|Happy / glad / joyful / blissful / ecstatic
||Sad / sorrowful / unhappy / depressed
||Ashamed / embarrassed
|Satisfied / content
|Curious / Interested
||Bored / disinterested
|Thrilled / excited / enthusiastic
||Rejected / dejected
|Included / belong
||Left-out / excluded
Very often, we are stuck in the confined loop of ‘happy-sad’ words when using our emotional vocabulary and this directly influences our children because they learn no better. Let us learn to label more emotions that are relevant to the situation.
Ask your child to state all the emotions they know of. If they find it hard to begin, make a happy face and ask them to complete the statement: I feel ______
Do the same with a scared, angry and an excited face. This way you can get them started on your little emotion project.
Sit facing your child so that both of you are looking at each other from an arm’s distance. You will show an emotion on your face when you say these words:
“I see a mirror and what do I see? I see a ____ face looking at me.” Repeat this exercise with 3-4 simple emotions that your child can recognize.
Now ask your child to pick 3-4 of her favorite emotions and do the above activity with you. In the next round pick a few new emotions and do your best in making that face. Use disappointment, tired, sleepy, bored, lonely, etc.
Remove their soft toys and place them in a row. Any pictures that depict a living being will also work.
Pick one object after another and tell your child one simple statement about something that happened in this beings’ life today. Then, your child has to recognize the emotion felt by this being.
E.g., today the shark swam from sunrise to sunset and now she cannot swim anymore. What is she feeling right now?
If your child does not label the emotion, give her two or three choices.
E.g., is the shark feeling lonely, happy, or tired right now?
Cover different emotions with each new object. Some statement options:
- Today baby elephant got a new ball toy to play with. How does he feel? (happy or excited)
- Sheep woke up at 6am early in the morning and she played all day. Now the sun is setting and she is beginning to yawn, how is she feeling right now? (sleepy or tired)
- Bumblebee’s dad promised to bring him a new school bag but then dad forgot. How does the bee feel? (Here you do not want your child to label only sad. You want her to be more specific. The answer is ‘disappointed’).
This activity will give your entire family an outlet to express emotions through a rhyme along with actions. Here the child learns how each emotion ‘looks’ and ‘feels’.
When we feel happy, we make our happy bunny ears (V with fingers on the head). When we feel sad, our ears fall down (upside down V with fingers on the side of the head). When we feel angry, we roar like lions (or stomp our feet) and let it out. When we feel scared, we make a fist and take it close to our chest. When we feel embarrassed, we bend our head low and hide our eyes. When we feel proud, we lift our head high up above our neck. When we feel confused, we tap a finger on our head and when we feel loved, we cross our arms to give a hug. (Alternative way: use the rhyme: ‘if you are happy and you know it’. In each round, introduce a new emotion and the corresponding action).
Also Read: Helping Children Manage their Emotions
Have each family member explore and reserve one spot in the home that is their ‘quiet spot’, where they can go to when they are angry or sad. Have them recognize their ‘favorite’ and ‘happy’ spot in the home too.
Print out or draw faces showing different emotions and stick them in direct vision. Each one of you can point to the emotion you are feeling when you sleep or wake up, after school, and before / after meals.
Magazines, ads, and public places are also a great resource for a quick fun time ‘recognize their emotions’ game.
Remember, if your child is aware, alert and accepting of how she feels, she has the most precious gift – to skim through every situation thick or thin