Emotional Intelligence is like making a cake
If I struggle to manage my emotions, then how on earth do the little ones cope?
I have felt overwhelmed by my emotions many times in my life and it was the feeling of not being able to manage them that made me worry for my own children’s wellbeing as they grow. If we as adults have those periods when our emotions sabotage our behaviours then how do children, with young, developing minds, cope? Especially during times like now when the world is tackling Covid-19 and normal life as we all know it has changed dramatically.
I spent much of my career working as a sales trainer in a large company. Training people how to influence the behaviour of others is largely dependent on harnessing your own emotions to get a positive outcome. It wasn't until I left this company - where I was comfortable - to start my own business, that I truly saw the importance and value of Emotional Intelligence.
Six months into setting up my own business, my confidence took a huge nosedive. There was no single event or catastrophe that initiated it, it started as a little ripple, a murmur of insecurities, of low self-esteem that suddenly became overwhelming and crippling.
Once I was experiencing it, I started to notice that I wasn't alone in how I was feeling. I saw the same in other people – whether at work or at home. Everywhere I went I could see that people were being sabotaged by their emotions. It made me question if this is something that people develop when they face tougher challenges throughout adult life or if actually, they were never taught the basic skills as children? I started to delve deep into my thoughts and feelings, searching for an answer, and this led me to develop a passion for Emotional Intelligence. So much so that I became an accredited EQ-i practitioner.
When I’m taking adults through emotional intelligence training, I use the EQ-i 2.0 model (I’ve added it below if you’re interested in taking a look!). The model is an in-depth assessment of the frequency of use of the behaviours associated with emotional and social functioning, performance and importantly, well-being. The training helps you to identify how your emotional intelligence is currently serving you, where you can improve and how so that you can adapt and choose the way you respond to situations to get a better outcome.
Just like making a cake, a balance of the behaviours can make for a delicious outcome, but get the measurements out, even slightly, and you could end up with something totally unexpected and even a complete disaster. Think scones versus cake – same ingredients, different measures, different experience.
So how does this work for our children?
The principles are the same. Children aren’t born emotionally intelligent; we need to equip them with the right balance of skills (ingredients!) so they can manage the challenges that life will throw at them.
Back in 2017 the NHS did a study* that found about one in twelve children and young people had an emotional disorder such as anxiety or depression. They included a range of anxiety and depressive disorders that manifest themselves in fear, sadness, and low self-esteem. Children can feel this way when they become overwhelmed by their emotions. By showing them how to express their emotions, how to be empathetic, and how to build their self-regard will encourage them to be confident and resilient and will support them in harnessing their emotions as they grow into young adults.
And like adults, the principles and the subscales of the EQ-i 2.0 model act as a great tool. That’s why I’ve used the model to create a range of child-friendly and easy to use tools and products for The Best Life Kids. Each activity is designed to help you (and me!) develop our emotional intelligence in the home, while also helping build the key skills our children need to flourish.
A good one to start with is the identifying emotions activity. It’s a really simple exercise that links to the self-perception composite on the EQ-i 2.0 model and helps children to identify and understand more about the emotions they are feeling. The activity supports children to develop emotional self-awareness and shows them the ways and the words so that they are able to express their emotions. It’s also a lovely way of building a deeper emotional connection between you and your children.
All of the activities are available to download on the website, so please take a look and I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy creating them!