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Each year we think in earnest about how to become our better selves when traversing questions having to do with our bodies, our minds, and our souls. Whether it be about weight, knowledge, spiritual engagement or our relating and relationships. But what about our emotions - the instrumental force driving our thinking, our behavior, and our feelings. Where and how do our emotions fit into our lives in fostering a more positive sense of self, sense of wellbeing, success and kindness and compassion for others?
Being better able to manage your emotions–and understand those of others–is key to achieving your hopes, goals, and dreams. Promoting the building blocks of emotional intelligence from birth helps children build healthy brains, informing and shaping the patterning of the brain’s architecture for life. This process enables them to continue to experience, express and manage their emotions in healthy, constructive ways while becoming competent with understanding and dealing with their feelings and those of others.
The goal of developing emotional competence, which leads to self-regulation, isn’t to get rid of challenging emotions, difficult to both feel and manage, but rather to be able to make friends with and learn how to manage natural big feelings in helpful and healthy ways. By doing so, numerous doors open that can even the playing field, provide optimal opportunities, lead to an overall state of wellbeing, and enhance academic and lifelong successes.
Effectively dealing with big emotions–both negative and positive–is important not only to our mental health and cognitive functioning, but also to our physical health.
Emotions are people’s universal first language and the most fundamental way we communicate with and react to the world and to one another. For infants and young children, the educators and parents in their lives serve as essential guides who model self-regulation through co-regulation, integral to children learning how to deal with their natural everyday emotions, including anxiety and stress…
That’s why it’s equally important that educators and parents attend to their own emotional wellbeing in order to provide the guidance children require in learning how to manage their emotions and those of others.
So how do we do this? Well first we need to become aware of and understand what we’re feeling - becoming knowledgeable about our emotions. Once knowledgeable then we need to know what to do with them - how to effectively express, manage and regulate the feelings we have. By breaking it down into 4 building blocks, we have the following 4 scaffolded steps on the path to becoming emotionally intelligent:
Related: Find out more about the Four Quadrants of Emotional Intelligence.
This path in becoming emotionally intelligent not only provides children with the ability to develop a secure and positive sense of self, but also sets them on the pathway to developing positive and secure relationships and opens up important pathways in fostering critical thinking skills and optimal learning.
In order to learn, children must first be able to manage their emotions. Ultimately, learning requires being able to: pay attention, be patient, persevere, face mistakes, and remain focused when frustrated - all possible when emotions are effectively managed. We know from experience and research that when the brain is overwhelmed with unmanaged emotions it cannot learn.
In 2024, we can have a renewed commitment to paving the way for our children–and ourselves–to achieve our hopes, goals and dreams by prioritizing emotional intelligence.