In the book Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, the author highlights that science discovered that emotions play many roles in our lives. Researchers found that emotional awareness and self-regulation skills are more critical than intelligent quotient (IQ) if we want our children to grow up to be successful adults and happy in every area of their lives.
The first part of developing emotional intelligence and empathy is teaching emotional literacy in children. Helping them build their emotional vocabulary allows them to be aware of their own and other people’s emotions. The next step is to practice emotional intelligence and empathy in their daily lives. This is where self-regulation comes in. Self-regulation helps children to know how to manage their own emotions.
Self-regulation is the ability to control and redirect disruptive emotions and consequential thinking. Emotion regulation is often described as the ability to effectively regulate emotional arousal and control one’s internal state and the outward manifestation of that state.
One of the best predictors of healthy emotional interaction is face-to-face communication. However, due to an increasing “plugged-in” culture, more and more children become detached emotionally. Plugged-in refers to the frequent use of devices, preventing kids from having real-time face-to-face connections that help their emotional literacy. An increase in internet time parents reported is one reason they have less family time. As the children plug-in more, they also lose opportunities to empathize and socialize with other children.
Here are the following reasons why children today struggle with developing self-regulation skills:
1. Stressed out kids
Today, children are experiencing so much stress due to economic hardships, trauma, academic burdens, bullying, and pressure. The stress and anxiety make it difficult for them to tune in to what they are feeling and hinder them from seeing the emotions of others.
2. Overexposure to violent content
The more children see violent content in media or video games, the more they become aggressive, detached from their emotions, and less empathetic with others.
3. Parents not being a role model
Kids learn self-regulation or empathy at home. Parents modeling how to control their own emotions makes it easier for children to gain the skill of managing their own. If parents are not a good example of regulating their feelings, it will be harder for schools and society to help children.
4. Multitasking culture
Children are so distracted by so many things that require their attention, such as social media, academic requirements, television, and video games, that stop them from tuning in to people. This hinders them from empathizing and gives them a problem in controlling their own emotions.
It is beneficial to know what is the very thing that hinders our children from having that self-regulation skill because this affects their mental, emotional and can even affect their academic performance. The good news is that we can do something about it. Social media will always be there; pressure and stress are part of our daily lives. Given this challenge, promoting emotional intelligence with children in school or home settings is essential.
Though we cannot change children’s school or home environment, we can provide opportunities for children to tune in to their emotions and teach them how to cope with different emotions. Parents or teachers can promote the growth of intrapersonal knowledge and self-esteem of our children. Emotions have an inherent aspect that can be created and refined through careful nurturing and then more skills taught, resulting in emotional literacy (Bruce, 2010). That is why doing something to help them go back to their reality, be grounded, tune in to their emotions, and learn how to cope with them is so important.
The Calming Corner is necessary because our children are increasingly stressed out and distracted nowadays. This corner is a special place in your home or school where children can decompress. You can put a cozy sofa, comfortable chair, a bean bag or a music player. You can also put together a calm down kit in your calming corner. You can include some stress balls, a bubble blower, feeling books, feeling charts, and a journal to write their emotions in the equipment. What makes them calm down? What will be helpful for them? Different children have another way of coping with difficult emotions so consider your child’s preferences.
This positive and non-punitive corner can encourage children to learn how to cope with and process their intense emotions and provide consistency and security. We hope that they will get used to tuning in to their own emotions through consistent use of this space. The presence of the calming corner in your home can turn your family culture into one that normalizes expressing difficult and strong emotions. We provide security to our children when they see that we love and accept them no matter what they feel. We make them feel secure through our love when they see that we are there for them when they have a hard time managing their intense emotions. The calming corner is not just a place to study emotion but also to allow emotion to be felt, expressed, and processed. Through consistent use of this corner, children will realize that emotions are not an enemy that we need to dismiss quickly but an ally that can be helpful to us as a whole person and as a family.
Start creating and curating your calming corner. Be inspired with our Calming Corner Poster Set and see the difference it will make with your family. For more inspiration in creating a family culture that promotes emotional connection, visit our Emosyon Bibo® website and follow our Instagram and Facebook pages.
Borba, M. (2016). UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-about-me World. New York: Touchstone.
Bruce C. (2010). Emotional Literacy in the Early Years. SAGE Publications.
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ. New York: Bantam Books.
Gottman, J. (1997). Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Thompson, R. A. (1991). “Emotional Regulation and Emotional Development.” Educational Psychology Review 3: 269–307.