In my last blog post, we talked about 4 habits that will help your kids to develop an effective emotional vocabulary that will increase their emotional intelligence. If you haven’t had an opportunity to read it yet, click here and get caught up!
Children don’t learn how to identify or express their feelings by spending time staring at a computer screen, texting, playing videos games or talking on their cell phones. It is important that they spend less time daily being unplugged from electronic devices and more time being face to face with family and friends.
How much time is your family spending plugged in each day?
A check of your most recent cell phone, internet and cable bill is a great way to determine just how much time your family is typically spending in the digital world each day.
What percentage of the day does your family plug into electronics? Is it time to consider your alternatives?
What Are Your Personal Digital Habits?
How many times a day do you check your phone? How many hours do you spend mindlessly “surfing” the internet? When your kids are around, do they see you staring at your phone instead of focusing on them?
Children learn what they see modeled. Make sure that they see you focused on them. Listen to what they have to day and make sure you are distraction free when you are together.
Are You Eating Meals Together as a Family?
Research shows that eating meals as a family at least several times a week can have a positive effect on the emotional well-being of children of all ages. Talking and sharing among family members helps them to identify their feelings more clearly. Asking kids questions about their day and how they feel about their experiences will help them to develop a feelings vocabulary.
Are You Creating Unplugged Times for the Whole Family?
Research has also revealed that families who have specific unplugged times together actually spend less time plugged in overall. Unplugging from digital devices is a great way to help your kids to talk about their experiences and their emotional reactions. Describing their feelings and understanding why they feel them will increase your kids’ emotional intelligence.
Are You Building a Feelings Vocabulary for Your Family?
Slowly but surely, you should be helping your kids to develop an emotional vocabulary of words that they can use to describe what they feel. Kids should be able to use their words to explain what they are experiencing. Words like happy, sad, angry, confused, lonely, etc. should be a part of your child’s daily vocabulary. They should be able to match what they are feeling to specific words.
Unplugged time together is the best way to help your kids recognize and understand their feelings. Here are a few more ideas that you can use during unplugged family time to start the discussion about feelings.
Play Emotions Charades: Write the names of different emotions on individual index cards. For younger kids, you can draw facial expressions. Have your kids act out the feeling with facial expressions and body movements only.
Play Feelings Detectives: Play this game when you are in public, say at the mall, in a movie theatre or at the park. Watch the facial expressions and body language of other people and ask our child to identify what emotion the person may be feeling.
Make Emotions Flashcards: Write emotion words on one side of an index card and ask your child to show you the emotion using their face and body but no words.
Create a “How Are You Feeling” Chart: If your child is having trouble identifying a feeling, create a chart with faces of people experiencing different emotions. Ask them to point to the face that matches what they are feeling. Then start a conversation to help them understand what they are feeling.
Read Books About Feelings: This is one of my favorite ways to increase a child’s emotional intelligence. Reading together creates a special bond between parent and child. If you need book recommendations, click here to check out our Book Recommendations Board on Pinterest.
There are no shortcuts to strong “deep feeling” connections. Those feelings are only achieved in quality face-to-face communications. The more children can connect one-on-one and the less they swipe, like, tag or friend, the greater the odds that their empathy will steadily grow.
It starts with tuning in to other human beings.
If you would like to find out about more ways to bullyproof your kids, check out our latest e-book called “Bullyproof”. It’s full of ideas on how you can take small steps to empower your child to stand up to bullies, to keep the lines of communication open and to help your child to become more empathetic and compassionate.
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