How much better would the world be if we were all a little better at recognizing distress, happiness, loneliness, or tendencies in others? Unfortunately, many of us lead such busy lives that taking a look around seems like more of an inconvenience than a requirement, and we often miss each other because of it.
The wonderful thing is that children pay attention to everything, and every person. Yes, that can backfire sometimes, but it’s their greatest strength in soaking in the world around them and developing their own personalities, opinions, passions, and interests with every year that passes.
Taking care of a child is about so much more than occupying, feeding, clothing, and transporting them. It’s all about sharing experiences and conversations with them, and teaching them to show interest in others.
To notice is often to know, and an important aspect to teaching and engaging with children as they grow up is to instill these skills in them. We can lead by example and actively teach these skills and improve ourselves at the same time, too!
Teaching kids to ‘notice’ helps with two of the five pillars of emotional intelligence: social skills and empathy. Humans are naturally sympathetic, and some have a better knack for empathy than others. Luckily, these skills can be taught to a degree. A child’s success in social circles often hinges on whether they can listen to others and recognize when others are happy, sad or otherwise.
As for other aspects of emotional intelligence—self awareness, regulation and motivation—that skill of listening can be of great importance. Oftentimes, knowing yourself is to let others know you, and receiving feedback in a positive way. Disciplined activities and an expectation of diligence and sociality can also help children develop positive qualities as they grow!
Building motivation in kids usually starts with asking questions. Posing a simple question like ‘what do you think of this?’ or ‘how do you feel about it?’ can open kids up to expressing themselves and realizing which topics and things they’re most excited, confused, or even scared about. When those questions are answered, caregivers and family alike can give kids a more direct avenue to something that makes them truly ‘light up’ and pursue. But that’s just addressing self-motivation. Motivation can also pertain to others and overlap with our social skills. As is true in the world of adults, the world of kids is very similar. It’s filled with an urgency to show affection and feel it in return, and to share memories and experiences with those around us. Regular and meaningful interaction with kids we spend time with helps them recognize what drives these social needs and see how to make the people around us happier and better-off, while also keeping an eye on our own needs and desires.
Maple Leaf Child Care wants the best for each and every child, and love spending time watching those we see every day grow up to be strong, intelligent, and kind.