By Dr Ash Nayate
This article has been supplied and reproduced with permission from the Great Health Guide, a 96five community contributor.
In the last issue of Great Health GuideTM, the importance of teaching children to be emotionally intelligent was discussed. This is integral to their success in every area of life, from education and productivity, to relationships and self-esteem.
Here are two more ideas to assist in teaching the children in your world to:
- Let them witness our mistakes.
When it comes to mistakes, there are many great lessons we can teach our kids. To be able to recognise a mistake. To be willing to apologise. And, to be humble and dignified when receiving an apology from another.
If I had to choose a single greatest lesson, it would be this: mistakes don’t make us bad people. A failed attempt at something doesn’t mean that WE are a failure. Unfortunately, from an early age, many of learn that mistakes are ‘bad’ and that we should avoid them at all costs. It’s reinforced at every turn – we’re encouraged to make as few ‘mistakes’ as possible on tests. We’re encouraged to ‘be right’ and to avoid ‘being wrong’. Sometimes, we even get shamed or ridiculed for making mistakes.
The truth is that mistakes are the only way we learn. We don’t really know something until we’ve put it into practice and with practice, inevitably comes mistakes. Unfortunately, the desire to avoid mistakes and to always ‘be right’, can lead to our kids being fearful to try new things, or take on new challenges.
One of the greatest lessons is that mistakes don’t make us bad people.
As caregivers, we can encourage our kids to see the inherent learning opportunity that mistakes provide – and the best way, is for them to see us make mistakes and handle them gracefully. For example, ‘I was supposed to take this to Grandma’s house and I forgot. I’m going to message her now and apologise. I’m going to write a reminder on this Post-It and stick it on my keys, so I’ll definitely remember to take it tomorrow’.
Not only do we teach kids how to problem-solve mistakes, we also show them that it’s human to make them and does not reflect on the quality of our character in any way.
- Cultivate positive habits.
Emotional intelligence isn’t just about managing the uncomfortable emotions, it’s also knowing how to cultivate the positive ones, too. Gratitude is a real buzz-word in popular culture and it has its share of critics who view it as ‘too spiritual’ or ‘pseudoscientific’ to be of use. Interestingly, the empirical evidence is showing that focussing even a few minutes each day on the things we appreciate, can tremendously improve our mental wellbeing.
It’s easy to teach kids to be grateful, because they’re naturally more present in the day to day joyful moments of life. The practice of gratitude can manifest in different ways. For example, talking over the breakfast or dinner table, about the things we appreciate. For younger children who might not fully understand the concept of ‘appreciation’ and ‘gratitude’, we can get the ball rolling with questions such as ‘what’s the best thing that happened today’, ‘what’s something funny that happened today’ or ‘what was your favourite thing about today’.
Emotional intelligence is knowing how to cultivate positive emotions.
Not only will these questions encourage our kids to adopt a positive and appreciative mindset, but the answers they give can also provide powerful insight into our kids’ minds and opens doors for other ways to connect and enhance our meaningful relationships with them.
Dr Ash Nayate is a clinical neuropsychologist specializing in brain function and resulting behaviour. Ash has almost 15 years’ experience working with children and families, supporting them to feel happier, more confident and resilient. To contact Ash please visit her website. For more health articles go to 96five community contributor Great Health Guide.