Emotions underpin everything we say and do. They are important cues to the world and people around us that help guide decisions and build relationships. How do you develop emotional intelligence in your child?
Modern life is full of emotional challenges. The pressure to succeed, need, to keep up, fear of missing out and desire for good relationships and work satisfaction can all evoke volatile combinations of emotions. What we learn in society is not how to work with our emotions, but how to block and avoid them. We acknowledge our emotions and then we swat them away with mantras learned since childhood. (Mind over mater, get a grip and suck it up, are familiar ones.) Thwarting emotions is not good for mental or physical health. It’s like pressing on the gas and brakes of your car at the same time, creating an internal pressure cooker.
Mark Brackett, author of a new book, Permission to Feel is passionate about teaching adults and children about developing emotional intelligence and our right to embrace what we are feeling. He is a leading expert in developing emotional intelligence and has created “RULER”, an emotion skills-building program aimed at school children.
Emotional intelligence is important
Emotional intelligence is necessary for living a healthy, fulfilling life. Through many studies, it has demonstrated that those people with higher emotional intelligence:
- Have better mental health
- Are less anxious and depressed
- Have a lower risk of work burnout and have better workplace performance
- Have better quality relationships
- Perform better academically.
People who possess emotional intelligence are better able to understand what is behind their or other peoples’ behaviour and feelings. Being able to identify the themes and triggers behind your emotions is critical to emotional regulation.
What is “RULER” and how can it help you and your children?
Mark Brackett has developed a skills-building program called RULER that aims to help children:
- Recognise emotions within themselves and others
- Understand where those emotions arise
- Label their emotions as precisely as possible
- Express emotions in a healthy way
- Regulate their emotions.
As parents understanding the RULER principles, we could provide our children with invaluable emotional tools that they will use throughout their lives.
How do the principles of RULER affect social change and challenge gender stereotypes?
Take a minute to think back to your childhood. As a girl, were you ever told not to be loud, excitable or angry? As a boy, were you ever told that boys don’t cry or that it was “wimpy” to be upset or sad? Teaching your children about their emotions means breaking down these barriers. There are no “feminine” or “masculine” emotions. There are just emotions.
As parents, we teach our children by example every day about emotions. We need to show them that if a boy cries, it does not make them weak. If a girl is showing negative emotions like anger, it does not make her a “mean girl”.
The RULER principles teach us that all emotions are acceptable and form valuable sources of information. We all express emotions, and the form of this expression is based on who we are, not our gender. Through teaching and showing our children what emotional intelligence looks like, we can challenge those stereotypes, and they will grow up as healthy, well-adjusted individuals.
As role models to our children, we can guide them by teaching them the principles of RULER. To show our children the skills and strategies to develop emotional intelligence that will see them through into their adult lives.