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Start This Early! How To Teach Emotional Intelligence To Kids

For years, people have asked me when I talk to groups. "But what about their emotions?" We need to understand more about emotions. We really do live in a time where there's a lot of value put on people's emotions. And our emotions are an important part of who we are. In fact, some people are more emotionally strong, more emotionally intelligent than others. 

This is an article I've been dying to make for people because it teaches about how to teach our children emotional intelligence. And I think all those people that have asked those questions over the years are going to like this. This is for you. Emotional intelligence is vital for the success and fulfillment of the person. So, what is emotional intelligence? It's the ability to monitor and identify our own emotions so that we can choose to have emotional strength instead of following into emotional bondage. Essentially, emotional intelligence is freedom. In fact, if we want to sum up in a nutshell almost everything I teach goes back to emotional intelligence. 

When a person has high emotional intelligence, that means that they can self-motivate and self-govern themselves. They accomplish a lot more of their goals. They often times feel much more fulfilled and confident in their daily lives and communications with other people. They often feel understood and know how to understand other people and their emotions as well. So, really if a person has good emotional intelligence, they are healthier. And can bring about a lot of healing for society. 

So, how do we recognize what emotionally strong and emotionally intelligent people look like? Listen to this list. I just want to read this to you. Emotionally strong and intelligent people are... And these are just a few of the things. Assertive, patient, careful, sociable, driven, and enthusiastic. Among others, I can keep going. What a great list of what it means to be emotionally intelligent. So, what about a person who has low emotional intelligence or they're not very emotionally intelligent? What is that list? Well, here it is. Let me read it to you.

Those people are: Aggressive, easily distracted, bossy, stubborn, picky, critical, perfectionistic, selfish, egotistical, resistant to change, and hard to please. Among other things. Now, does that sound like I just made a loss of the person you want to be best friends with and the person you don't want to hang out with at all? It probably sounds that way because that's kind of what it's like. When a person has great emotional intelligence or they might call it high emotional intelligence, that person attracts other people to them. That person is someone you want to be with, you want to learn from. You want to be their friend. 

But that other person who's hard to please and moody and picky and that kind of thing, that person is a drain. And they don't recognize that they have low emotional intelligence. And so, that is why they're struggling so much with making friends and with having people that seem like they care about them and talk to them. So, let's talk about helping our children understand their emotional intelligence. So, I want to share with you 4 steps for teaching children emotional intelligence. 

Step number one, parents have to be working on their own emotional intelligence to create children who are also emotionally intelligent. So, when I teach people about self-government because that's what I am most known for, is teaching parents and children how to govern themselves. I always say it's totally possible for your children of almost any age... I mean, maybe accept 6 months old, you know? But usually, from about 18 months on, they can start self-government. 

And they're really great at it. And I say, "They can learn this. It's even possible if they have processing difficulties or challenges in any way." And I know because I took so many of those youth into my home. And I have taught them how to govern themselves. And I've seen so many families do it now over the years. But then I always say, but there's a bit of bad news. Maybe it's the good news. But I always say, "It's the bad news. And the bad news is you can't teach your children to govern themselves unless you've also decided to govern yourself. Ouch! That means that the parent has to first decide to face their own beasts and make a plan for what to do with them. 

Because to self-govern means to analyze yourself, plan for the future, and then self-correct again and again and again. That's what it means. That's the process of self-government. And you've used that process within the loss of cause and effect. So, if your child is going to be emotionally intelligent, if they're going to learn to be resilient, confident adaptable, all these different things that we get lost for a person who has emotional intelligence, guess who's going to have to be adaptable, motivated, resilient? You are. The parent is. Of course. So, that's number 1. 

The second step to teaching children emotional intelligence is to understand cause and effect with emotional unloading. I hope you know what emotional unloading is. So, this is when you emotionally vomit on somebody else. There is a kind of hypothesis out there that if somebody has something that tastes bad in their mouth, they have to spit it out. Or if somebody feels sick, then they throw up. So, if somebody has a bad emotion inside, they need to throw it up and get it out. But that would mean they would have to throw it up on somebody else. 

Well, what is the cause and effect of emotional unloading on somebody else like this? They distance themself from you. They don't trust you, they want to protect themselves from you. They feel manipulative. Maybe you're going for pity, even. But they just can't keep giving pity to a person who's begging for pity. It just feels like they're being used. They're being taken advantage of. 

So, we've got to remember to teach our children when we emotionally vomit on somebody else or emotionally unload on somebody else, they are going to probably have some feelings that could be considered negative consequences or the wrong effects. The ones we don't want them to have from our actions. So, what we need to teach our children is when and where do we talk about our emotions. Because that's important, right? So, in our family, we have certain times that we discuss emotions together. 

That leads me to step number 3 which is having open communication with our children about their emotions and how to conquer their emotions. So, it's one thing to just listen to a person. But then it's another thing to help them became proactive. And to take steps in a direction that's going to lead them toward freedom and empowerment. So, we have talked to our children. We call them Parent Counselling Session. And we will occasionally sit down with them and bring up an issue that we notice before or they might say, "Hey, can we have the special talk?" And I'll say, "Sure." Now, during this talk time, nobody is going to be corrected. We're just going to talk and listen. And then we're going to make a plan for the future. 

Then going forward, if they follow through with something, then they can be corrected. But during that talk time, it's just a time for understanding and planning a unity and bonding. Obviously, some children especially those who are seeking negative attention. Especially the pity kind of negative attention can be calling those meetings all the time. And then you might have to set a certain time of the day or a certain day of the week where we have those meetings. And if there's something we want to talk about in one of those meetings, we have a list where you jot it down. So that when you have that meeting, you can discuss that. 

Now, we have regular weekly meetings with our children that we call mentor meetings. And we do discuss some of their emotional concerns in the mentor meetings. But we also have one-off meetings that we call parent counseling sessions where we talk more in-depth about one specific issue that they feel they might need help with. And this could go on to issue-related to their emotions. But the most important part of creating emotional intelligence is we help them make a plan for the future so that they don't feel like they're stuck in emotions. 

Step number 4 is to help children analyze themselves by teaching them skills that break down their actions so that they can actually see where to improve. So, in our family, we teach 4 basic skills. We teach our children how to follow instructions, accept no answers and criticism, accept consequences, and disagree appropriately. The skill sets to these 4 basic skills take care of almost every negative behavior that they might have. 

Well, these skills sets are for instance, for following instructions, there are 5 steps. You look at the person; keep a calm face, voice, and body, say okay, or ask to disagree appropriately. Do the task immediately and then check back. So, if a person says, "Okay, I'll go and clean the kitchen sink" but they roll their eyes when they say it, then they're almost all the way following an instruction but not quite. So, they learn how to recognize, well, I looked at the person. And I said, okay. And I went to go and do it. And I probably would've checked back but that calm face thing really got me this time. And I didn't get the calm face. And how do they learn to analyze those things by having a parent who is diligent in correcting them? In kindly, calmly correcting them. It doesn't have to be something that feels like a burden to the parent. 

If it does, then the child will feel like they're training in something that is a burden to the parent. And that's not good for your roles and identity and the family. Or for your bond. So, the children need to be able to analyze themselves which requires teaching ahead of time and really consistent correcting. I know I told you that I was going to tell you 4 steps. But as I'm going along, I'm like, "No. There's one more I want to share." And it's a bonus step. And this bonus step, so we call it to step 5 of the 4 steps of helping children become emotionally intelligent is describing. Descriptive language. So, remember the last step, step 4, we were talking about helping them see which step they miss. Well, the way that the parent does that is by increasing their description skills themselves. So, the parent would say, "You know, just know, I gave you that instruction and you've looked at me. 

But you didn't keep a calm face. You did have a calm voice though and you said okay and you went off to do it. But because you didn't keep a face, you're not fully following instructions. What you should have done was...." And then they would describe, "You should've kept a calm face, voice and body then said okay. Go off to do the task immediately and check back. Since you chose not to..." And then they would go into the rest of that correction. 

Which is a 7-step process that we teach for parents. And I'm not going to go into all that here. But that describing step is so important. Because it helps the child see even more exactly what they're doing and exactly what they can do to make a positive change for themselves. Here's the thing: When a person learns emotional intelligence, what they're learning is how to choose the positive. How to choose the productive. The people with low emotional intelligence are the ones making excuses, blaming other people for their condition in life. They're not taking action. They're just choosing to wait for somebody else to save them. 

The people who have high emotional intelligence are the people who aren't afraid to make a change within themselves. How do children learn to not be afraid of making a change within themselves? By having parents who completely embrace hoping their children make a change within themselves. And who is even working on their own problems as a parent, as an adult? They're self-governing themselves too. They're the ultimate example of that for their children. Another way that parents can help their children develop really good emotional intelligence is by helping them learn how to communicate with other children as well. 

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