Enormous data has been generated to prove that emotional intelligence plays an essential role for success in relationships, health, and quality of life. Children with higher EQ earn better grades at school and make rational choices (for example less likely to be involved in bullying and smoking).
Goleman who popularized the term ’emotional intelligence’ said that it encompasses five essential elements: self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation, empathy, and adeptness in relationships which are the basis for learning practical skills and achieve success in our endeavors. One of the best ways of developing these attributes is play.
Play is a vital medium for the development of emotional intelligence in humans. Children develop emotional skills during organic communication with friends at school, not during lessons in the classroom. The joy, fulfillment, and creative growth achieved through play forms an important aspect of mental development.
A fun game for training emotional intelligence is the ‘My emoticon game.’ A printed sheet with emoticons can be used for children to choose an expression. They further have to make their face look like the chosen emotion. It is always easy and effortless to make positive emoticons, unlike stressful negative emotions. We can imbibe positive emotions in children by explaining its importance. This game creates an emotional awareness and empathy, helping in relationship building.
Group games are an amazing EQ exercise. Children can be given a set of things and asked to perform a task or deal with a situation. The team members develop creative ways for problem-solving by making use of the strength and weaknesses of the team members. Such activities facilitate team building, adeptness in relationships, and motivation to weak teammates.
During role play and pretend play activities children reflect on their own emotions and also understand others perspective, they observe and explore the in and out of the chosen character. These can be fun ways for inculcating awareness of self and others.
Kids are caring, thoughtful creatures; we need to reiterate these values in them to build their EQ. We can teach kids specific techniques to deal with their unpleasant emotions like taking a deep breath when angry or frustrated and thought exercises to distract them. These can also prove to be effective ways of developing EQ.
Play is the best medium to connect to kids and therefore, a useful tool for developing EQ in children. Emotional intelligence will help us healthily deal with ourselves and others.