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As Asian parents we're known for worrying about academic results and also would go to great lengths to expose our children to extra-curricular activities like sport and art. But do we pay enough attention to our kids' emotional development or is that an entirely Western concept? An emotionally intelligent child is one who is sensitive to other people, responsible, confident and well-grounded. Pretty much qualities that all decent people -Asian or not - should have.
Here are five emotional skills your child should possess:
For young children, getting overwhelmed with their emotions is a common thing. It could happen not just when they're angry or sad but even when they're happy - ever see overexcited, maniacal kids running around and screaming with laughter at inappropriate places while their parents try feebly to monitor them? Children, no matter how young, need to be taught the value of restraint. With self-control, they’ll learn to deal with negative emotions and mood swings without sinking into depression or behaving inappropriately in social situations. Sure, there's nothing wrong with kids being excited kids but sooner or later they'd need to know that there's a time and place for everything.
Example: Your daughter had been painstakingly building a sandcastle on the beach when her cousin accidentally destroyed it during a bout of rough play. While she has every right to be angry and upset, the emotion has to be managed well or else she would eventually become the kind of person who would lash out at people or act violently in the name of "eye for an eye". But do allow her to express herself appropriately to her cousin.
Another important emotional skill your child should possess is patience. Children who lack patience tend to be very demanding or give up on a task easily before they even have a chance to succeed.
Teaching patience means delaying gratification. This can be hard for busy parents who would prefer to spend their time with a happy child rather than a sulky one. The temptation for them would be just to give the child whatever he wants so that their limited time together is not spent on having to deny requests. But a child who is patient and able to wait for the things he wants also opens himself up to better rewards than others who are impatient. Good things come to those who wait, remember? Case in point, to enjoy beautiful flowers, you'd have to give time for your plant to grow and bloom, rather than to pull up the seedlings.
This might be really difficult for overprotective moms to practice, but teaching self-reliance is one of the most useful things you can give your child. Self-reliance is independence. We know that we're not going to be around forever so we may as well start Junior on relying on himself as soon as possible.
Self-reliance begins at home and can start with the simple act of feeding. You can choose to you child lead the way even when he begins to wean. Yes, it will be a messy experience but many parents who do this swear that their children end up self-feeding much earlier than their peers who are spoon-fed with purees.
With self-reliance, life becomes an exciting adventure for your child from the get-go because he is empowered to discover on his own. And let him make mistakes; its part and parcel of the learning process.
Responsibility goes hand in hand with self-reliance. With responsibility, your child will learn accountability: to admit mistakes when appropriate and take affirmative action for things that he has caused to happen.
Responsibility is best taught through mirroring. Talk about acts of responsibility so that your kid begins to understand the concept. For example, say "Mummy needs to go to bed on time today so that I will get enough rest and won't be tired when I go to work tomorrow!" Or if you make a mistake, acknowledge it - "I shouldn't have tried to carry all those eggs at once. Now I've dropped some - my bad!"
Creating close connections is a practiced skill that can give great rewards. Everyone likes the idea of having a friend but few really think about what to do to maintain and build good relationships with others.
You can teach your children the value of friendship by pointing out good examples in movies or books. Talk to them about qualities that friends appreciate in others: loyalty, trust and being reliable. These may seem like big concepts but hey, they're a big deal. And your child will thank you for it when the friends he makes in Primary school last him a lifetime.
Do you agree with these emotional skills? Tell us what you think. For more information on childhood emotional development, watch this video:
No longer a corporate slave to the banking industry, I am a certified Work-at-Home-Mom who is currently mastering the art of juggling domestic duties and writing articles.
Bigger Kid Teen Development Parenting Advice by BRAND'S® AlphaMynd Gallery Toddler