Mindful Parenting At Home: Fostering Emotional Intelligence in Children
Encouraging children to express themselves in a supportive environment is at the heart of what we do at Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centre — but how can you implement the same education practices in your own home? While the Reggio Emilia approach is a great guide for how we run our childcare, there are even more benefits to be found when using the same tools and techniques beyond the classroom. In this blog, we’ll discuss ways you can do this while fostering your child’s emotional intelligence.
Before we get started, what exactly does it mean to be emotionally intelligent? The term is typically used to describe someone who has the capacity to be aware of, control, and express their emotions, as well as understand and empathise with the needs of others. For young children, emotional intelligence is especially important as most of our development occurs between birth and the age of five.
The 5 types of emotional intelligence are:
- Social skills
Now let’s explore how you can boost your child’s emotional intelligence at home with these 4 mindful parenting techniques.
Establish a Clear Routine
Children appreciate structure and security in their daily routines. Just like adults, if things are familiar then they’re going to feel more confident and know exactly what to expect! Put together a timetable that works best for your family and help your child build healthy habits. A regular sleeping schedule will keep their brains active, established mealtimes will allow them to feel energised throughout the day, and providing time for activities and play will encourage a positive disposition. At our centres, we place importance on giving children an established routine to follow each day. We’ve found that by incorporating a similar daily schedule at home, you’ll be able to help your child grow their independence, decision-making skills, and understanding of the world around them naturally and securely.
Actively Listen and Learn
The Reggio Emilia approach recognises that listening to children’s thoughts and feelings is crucial for their development. As opposed to more authoritarian styles, mindful parenting that follows this thinking can be used to enhance self-awareness, independence and social skills in children. By listening as opposed to dictating, parents are acknowledging their child’s point of view in a way that is vital to developing emotional intelligence. The good feelings that come from being heard and understood will inspire your child and in turn, they’ll act more empathetically towards others.
At our centres, we use the ‘Frog Project’ as an example of how we listen and work with children to generate project ideas. Say we establish the children’s interest in frogs; from there we would work with them as project managers to come up with a specific project or activity idea. We might ask questions like: What do we know about frogs? What would we like to know about frogs? And finally, what can we ‘do’ to interact with frogs? We might choose to draw and paint frogs, read more about them or even grow tadpoles. As in the classroom, there’s no limit to what you and your child can come up with at home!
Engage in Activities that Promote Creativity
Creative activities prompt children to express themselves and let go of perfectionism. They can be a key aspect in building emotional intelligence because they focus on self-awareness and motivation. Encourage your child to choose an activity they enjoy most — if you don’t see their eyes light up when you mention a particular activity then enquire further! As we know from the Frog Project, getting your child to brainstorm possible ideas will make them feel empowered and more capable in their own decision-making. Activities you could try at home include art, music, or even learning a new language — all of which we implement in our Reggio 5 extra-curricular program.
Reflect and Grow Together
As with active listening, taking the time to reflect with your child is critical to developing their emotional intelligence. Find out what made them happy, sad, scared or angry during the week and ask why. Conversations like these encourage your child to open up about emotions and deal with them constructively. This will allow them to become more aware and honest about their feelings and be more comfortable self-regulating in future scenarios.
As part of the Reggio Emilia approach, we use daily snapshots to track your child’s progress and development. The snapshots outline your child’s interests, projects and educational programs and include photos of them participating in a wide range of learning experiences. You could use a similar approach at home with a feelings journal, which can help your child process more confusing or challenging emotions.
By incorporating these mindful parenting practices into your daily life, you can empower your child to develop emotional intelligence, setting them on a path to navigate their emotions and relationships with confidence and empathy. Embracing these principles, just as we do at Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centre, will help your child flourish in their emotional journey, both at home and beyond.
To find out more about the Reggio Emilia approach, its principles and how we foster your child’s emotional intelligence in our centres, feel free to reach out to us on 02 9891 2222 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.