Emotional intelligence in children and its importance for the future

Emotional intelligence in children is an important factor during their early years, and it will also be fundamental for emotional management in the future. Activities to develop emotional intelligence in children allow them to stimulate certain affective responses, which they can put into practice in their daily circumstances.


What is emotional intelligence and how can it be applied in educational programs?

Emotional intelligence is based on a series of personal skills oriented to the control of emotions and affective responses. Emotions affect us personally, but they also play an important role in our relationships with others, so it is important to develop appropriate learning from an early age.

More and more school programs are including emotional education. The importance of emotional intelligence in children lies in present and future situations. Students learn to reject behaviors related to bullying, school harassment, selfish behaviour , etc., and also develop basic emotional responses for later adulthood.

Teaching programs that include this type of learning allow students to be exposed to different circumstances in which they must give an appropriate emotional response, and this behavior can be extrapolated to situations they will have to face outside the classroom.


Self-awareness as part of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence in children begins with the perception of emotional self-awareness. The student learns to feel and manage affective behaviors that will affect him or her personally and on which much of his/her  psychological well-being depends. Emotional self-awareness includes self-critical responses, based on the student’s own evaluation of themselves.  The main objective is to reinforce their  own confidence, being able to face any present and future emotional situation.

When we talk about the importance of emotional intelligence in children, we usually associate this type of activities with interpersonal skills, however, emotional skills will always influence in a personal way, that is why one of the basic objectives is to generate self-awareness in the student.


Games to learn to manage emotions

The playful part of emotional management is the best teaching method. Most games aimed at stimulating affective responses are role-based. What we are looking for is that the student can live in different circumstances, with which he or she is forced to generate different emotional responses. These games encourage situations in which the student acquires different roles and must make decisions that affect themselves  as well as others.

The decisions that the student has made during the activity will teach him or her to offer affective responses in real situations. What we are looking for is to generate situations in which the student must decide based on values such as solidarity, empathy or friendship, encouraging certain emotional responses.


At what age are basic emotional responses learned?

Experts indicate that from the age of 2 a child begins to assimilate certain affective responses. The primary grades, approximately from 5 to 11 years of age, are the period in which the emotional strategies that we will use during our lives are learned, that is why affective skills are increasingly important in the school programs during these grades.

From 2 to 5 years of age a person is able to identify certain affective behaviours  in other people, generating appropriate responses. From the age of 5 a child can make decisions that affect themselves emotionally, at this age they  already identifies values such as tolerance, responsibility, friendship or trust, the later years allow them to put this emotional experience into practice.

Once the elementary school period is over, approximately at the age of 11, the student will have overcome all kinds of emotional experiences, both personal and interpersonal, and therefore will have acquired enough experience to begin to face situations related to adult life.


The importance of controlling moods

The external aspects, in many cases uncontrollable, will have a crucial importance on our emotional well-being, it is important to control our mood, reducing the importance of external factors.

The activities to develop emotional intelligence in children will promote a balance between empathy (ability to put oneself in the place of others) and emotional self-control, in this way a child will be able to act based on social values, while learning emotional control techniques.

Controlling moods is not based on suppressing the emotions we may feel in our daily lives, on the contrary, we must experience them naturally, giving each situation the importance it deserves.

What we seek is to acquire an emotional balance capable of being maintained in any circumstance, managing situations that could endanger emotional stability. A primary school student can begin to solve situations that require a certain emotional control.


Learning to recognize emotions

One of the basic tasks during early learning is based on learning to recognise  emotions. Naming what we feel and recognising  those same emotions in others is very important, so many of these activities are based on naming and identifying emotions.

Whether through personal experience or through the experiences of others, elementary school students can learn to recognise  emotions that, in the future, they will feel firsthand. Drawing emotions, trying to guess how another person feels, or imitating certain emotional expressions can be helpful in recognising  and naming different emotions.

The emotional responses that a student learns during the years of primary education will be the affective base during their adulthood, that is why it is important to insist on the importance of the emotional level in education today and the advantages of teaching students to manage their behaviors and emotions.

ISP Schools is a network of 11 private schools in Spain, specialists in British and international education, and part of the International Schools Partnership, one of the largest educational groups in the world, with 50 schools and 45,000 students in 15 countries. We train bilingual students, help them reach their full academic potential, and empower them to adopt an international mindset through innovative learning.

Under this premise, our educational experts have prepared this content as part of the “ISP EDUCATION TALKS” initiative, an useful resource for obtaining information and advice on key issues for the education of our children.