3 Ways to Teach Your Children Emotional Literacy


Would you educate your children using the same education you received? Saadia Zahidi from World Economic Forum asked the same question to parents that attend their events. The attendees were some of the most knowledgeable, leading figures in the world, but, like many of us, they were uncertain about what the future holds.

The problem is the labour markets of the future will change. With it, the skillsets required will also change. So, what can we do as parents to ensure our children attain success in the future? World Economic Forum stated that 1 of the 3 factors that can help is “education”, especially early childhood education. Now, the question becomes what should our children’s early childhood education look like to set them up for success?

The essence of a great foundation starts with parent interactions with our children. Even US Department of Education states that parents are their children’s first and most important teacher, and we have highlighted 3 factors that science says will make you a great parent on our previous blog post. However, as MindShift stated “when children learn how to calm themselves down, use language to express their feelings and treat others with kindness, they are laying the foundation for future success and wellness”. Here are 3 things you can do as parents to teach emotional literacy that will shape your child’s early education to successfully meet the skillset demands of the future.

1 - Help your children identify their emotions without classifying them as good or bad


Help your children put a name on what they are feeling. Children in early ages have limited expressive language skills. Understand and evaluate their behaviours and reflect it back to them verbally. When your child is yelling or crying, explain why they are doing this and name their emotion. An example statement to this can be “You are sad. Mommy had to go to work and leave you and you didn’t want her to leave, so, you are feeling sad.” The important thing to remember here is: do not classify what they are feeling as good or bad. Instead neutralize their emotions. In other words, re-visit what they have done and how they felt and remind them that everyone feels that way sometimes. This technique is commonly called, “noting.” 

2 - Practice "examinable" reading


When you are reading a story with your child, stop and examine what the character is doing, how they are standing, what their facial expression looks like. Ask your child what they think the character is feeling at that moment. Here are a few picture book authors who MindShift suggests as good books to practice this technique with; Kevin Henkes, Patricia Polacco and Mo Willems. You can do the same thing when you are using education technology, like video games and/or movies. 

3 - Focus on emotional self-regulation


Teach your children how to calm their mind and body by focusing on the sensations that surround them. Practice sitting quietly with your children for a minute or so and share what you each saw, heard, and smelled. You can do this at a park, playground, on vacations, and more. This will help your children focus their attention internally and better understand themselves.

Attaining emotional literacy will help your children be more self-aware and create effective relationships. These will allow your children to shape themselves into an individual that can attain the skillsets necessary to succeed in the future.