The message “It’s OK not to be OK” is important for children to hear, but we must also include a disclaimer stating that it is also “OK to be OK”. The ideal is for young people to develop resilience, so that they can face most of life’s challenges, but also an openness to ask for help if it is needed.
Finding this balance is often a challenge. How can I help my child to be assertive without being arrogant, or how can I help my child to be compassionate without being child’s play?
In my opinion, resilience is all about authenticity, self-confidence and accuracy. However, opportunities to explore these qualities are limited when the social, personal and health education (SHPE) program is isolated from school culture. There is little value in declaring “we all have different qualities which are of equal importance” and then taking a spelling test where those who succeed are praised and those who struggle are rejected.
It is important to stress that the wellness aspects of the curriculum can be labor intensive and difficult, especially without psychological training.
When adults want to communicate a message to children, it has to be rehearsed and exaggerated to make sure it sticks. But they also have to see it, if we want them to be. Thus, despite inclusive exercises in the classroom, these espoused values must be visible in the daily functioning of things.
In recent years, there has been a tendency to encourage children to share their feelings. We told them it was okay to cry and not push things back. In fact, a cartoon campaign even suggested that holding back feelings could make your head explode.
This promotion of emotional expression is a step in the right direction and is certainly an improvement over the ubiquitous silence and suppression. However, emotional expression may not be enough on its own. What is also needed is increased emotional understanding or emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is not just the ability to express how you feel, rather it is the ability to be aware, to control, and to express your emotions with empathy. It’s not just about expressing how you feel, you should also consider the impact of your actions on others, an important aspect of developing empathy and prioritizing in interpersonal relationships.
Intrapersonal communication involves the internal monologues we have with ourselves, while interpersonal communication involves our interactive communication with others. If we are to introduce the concept of well-being into our families, schools and communities, we must include social responsibility which is a crucial aspect of emotional intelligence.
This social responsibility must also be part of the lived experience, and not just a topic withdrawn and discussed in class. Children must be aware that they have rights, but they must also be aware that alongside these rights come responsibilities. With the right to be the point guard at a lunch hour comes the responsibility to make sure everyone is included. With the right to have a treat on Friday comes the responsibility to put the packaging in the trash and keep the classroom tidy. These subtle, everyday value systems have much more influence on children’s learning than we give them.
Emotional intelligence is not just about understanding yourself, but also understanding our relationships with others. If we make emotional intelligence too individualistic, we run the risk of emotional skills being self-centered and lacking in consideration for others, a key social skill and an ingredient of resilience.
A child’s ability to navigate the social world is critical to their development, and more so for children who may require additional support, explanation, and understanding.
With the loss of social and emotional development opportunities over the past 18 months, there has never been a greater need to help children develop basic intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.
While we may claim to have strategies in our schools that aim to value effort over results, we might also have a culture of academic ranking or a TY awards night that only recognizes the brightest and most successful young people. more athletic..
We should not inadvertently convey that what we say and what we do are different and that it is OK. This will only serve to encourage more signaling of virtue and superficiality, which hardly benefits anyone.
Contemporary school culture is often focused on the performative aspects of the student, which value external variables rather than internal variables. External variables include medals, marks, awards and honors. Internal variables relate to less visible qualities such as hard work, loyalty, kindness and courage.
External variables can increase children’s confidence, while internal variables nurture their self-esteem and self-worth, which is much more durable when it comes to emotional intelligence.
As we try to teach young children to be mindful and aware of others, we need to encourage them to value the qualities of kindness, inclusion and resilience. But this recognition must be visible and tangible. The current focus on performance might mean that children are encouraged to create value systems around “what I can do” instead of “who I am”.
Encouraging emotional expression but neglecting to develop emotional intelligence can be problematic. Emotional expression teaches the person to be able to say, “This is how I feel and these are my feelings,” but neglects to develop an awareness of the impact of their actions on others.
High emotional expression and low emotional intelligence can be seen in social media communications, where people can use these platforms to express their feelings, but these expressions can be overzealous, superficial, poorly thought out, or openly hostile, so many ‘indicators of low emotional intelligence. .
We need to develop children’s awareness of themselves in conjunction with their learning of others. We can start by creating different sets of values that reward emotional intelligence, which may be more effective in creating change than token program topics or hard rules.
The most constructive way to promote emotional intelligence is to make it visible at home and at school through a constant role model by the adults in the room.