"When I was a child, my mom took the initiative to send me an extra box of lunch when I told her my classmate's mom was sick. When Christmas is around, she packs clothes and bakes extra cookies, and we decorate them together to give them to people who lived not far away from us, worn out. She always had this happiness around her of giving and being kind."
Only from empathetic people, kind actions are contributed, and humanity is preserved. It is the simple actions and words filled with understanding and kindness that matters and brings changes to lives and society the most. The ability to find reasons to justify other's situations, too, as we do in our situations, is developed from childhood. For this to attain, one should understand their own emotions and feelings and manage them righteously.
Children have a more challenging time to learn and develop empathy and kindness. What is empathy? It is the ability to think from another person's perspective and put yourself in someone's shoes. This enables a child to better understand another one's emotions and feelings. Compassion and kindness need to be fostered in young minds as the world highly needs that.
All before this, we need to familiarize ourselves with the term 'Emotional literacy.' When a person can recognize, understand, and express their feelings labeling them and can identify others' emotions and feelings by reading their facial expressions, body language, or spoken language, the person is said to achieve Emotional literacy. When a child can label his\her own emotions and feelings and express them correctly, they have already accomplished their first step towards Emotional literacy. They can easily tune in to what others might feel and can understand their needs better in situations.
Children and empathy
It is empathy that connects people deeper, and cultivating empathy in children requires its utmost importance and value. It is sad how children show violence and bully others leading to cause them intimidation and fear. It requires consideration and recognition to abolish this trend in children being unaware and careless about others' emotions.
With on-going societal problems like bullying and mental health concerns within children and youth, preparing them to be kind to each other, reading what others are going through, and staying strong for each other can help society build a better future. Children who have emotional literacy and empathy tend to adjust better emotionally and build stronger relationships.
How emotional literacy in children helps?
* It can make our children resilient.
* They can express their emotions right, as it supports their mental well-being.
* Develop to self calm themselves and self-regulate.
* Develop positive relationships with others.
* Social skills like sharing, empathy and kindness will grow.
* Supports children and young minds to cultivate social awareness and helps to connect with people.
* Benefits to building a greater community by strengthening the acceptance of similarities and differences within others. And interactions between people will turn out to have more values.
* Help them appreciate the communal values.
Remember, all this takes time to proceed, and your patience is essential during all these processes. And there are ways to nurture emotional literacy in your child effectively.
Teaching your child Emotional Literacy
It is definite that your child would already have a skill set from which you can further develop their confidence and boost them to recognize and label their emotions and feelings better. Try using these methods:
* To practice recognizing emotions, use clear, specific, and everyday words and label or use images of faces(crying, tensed, laughing, etc..).
* Whenever it is possible, try to name and label your's and your child's feelings. Talk about how you feel about anything, anyone, or any situation. It could be about anything, but let that be real, honest, and in simple words.
* You can help them start learning about emotions—simple emotions like happiness, anger, sadness, etc. Explain the feelings you see to them in simple language. Please talk with your child about those emotions and why you feel them that way.
* (If at any situation your friend behaved mad at you, you can explain to your child, "Ohh! imagine how hard her day must have been, to be mad at me like this." Such simple words from you will initiate your child to think from the other person's perspective too.)
* Without being judgemental, acknowledge feelings and emotions.
Use respectful words and be kind to your child. When they need help, speak to them and shower them kindness, "You can talk to me; I am here for you."
* Build positive body language always. Actions like standing over your child, crossing arms when they need to talk should be avoided. Reach to your child's eye-level, speak to them, and remain calm.
* Practice self-calming techniques, deep breathing, and promote playing games like "face charades" (a game that makes players guess the facial expression).
* Make an "emotion dice" and play it together with your child. Make your time together happy, Playing funny faces together in the mirror.
Be present and available to them:
When your child wants to talk, be the listener, a good listener. Ask them, "what happened?" "How does that makes you feel?". "Are you upset?".
Let them know that you are concerned about them, and you will always be there for them no matter what. This support you provide your children shall pass to others from them.
When it's hard for them to talk, be there for them, having immense patience and support. Please do not over-talk when they take time to express themselves. Like ways, please help them to be good listeners too when others need to talk.
Why is Emotional Literacy difficult to cultivate?
In our digital world today, We rarely keep eye-contact with each other. It is a one-way interaction we are following upon. We see no human looking each other in the eye when on a bus, in a waiting lobby, or where people usually meet. We swipe, type, and are always plugged-inn. We are providing our children significantly less opportunity to have a face to face and meaningful interactions and conversations. But, it is not the technology to blame always. It could be our work schedules, struggle to meet up the ends together, and our efforts to make our beloved ones safe and happy. We should try our best to be less distracted and tuned in for our children and their future because we are also responsible enough for their future.
Recognizing thoughts, likes, feelings, and dislikes and realizing ourselves' internal emotional state is Self-Awareness. Managing the feelings, emotions, and controlling impulses to react in a situation in an acceptable way is one key to Emotional Literacy. When children are aware that they are connected to others and understand social expectations, they have attained Social Awareness. Monitoring interactions with others and being capable of making decisions are also to be fostered in younger generations.
*Picture Credits: freepik.com