What a strange and challenging world we have to raise our young children in. We want them to learn to care about others but to be wary. And it's not just strangers
that they need to be wary of.
We want them to be curious and learn things, but not too curious. That could get them in trouble like the cat in the cautionary tale.
In short, they need to become good decision-makers and problem-solvers in order to thrive in a world that only seems to be getting more complicated.
So where do we start?
It only makes sense to start at the beginning of life. And it only makes sense to start with emotions. My home page has a great video from Harvard about the developing mind and why starting early is always the best plan.
Emotional intelligence starts with teaching young children about their own feelings and supplying them with the words to describe them. After that, they can learn about your feelings. You can use "I " messages to let them know how you feel.
Only after discovering their own and your feelings can they begin to think about others' feelings. This is a process that starts at birth and continues throughout their lifetimes.
Laptime is a simple way to think about teaching a complicated topic like emotions. Here’s a good description of a technique that can open the doors to positive emotional health.
This simple technique encourages emotional intelligence, self-regulation, and attachment.
reflection: What's the first step in teaching problem-solving to young children? Why?
Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.