People often associate being kind and empathetic with Emotional Intelligence and Regulation. While this is a great side dish to the actual critical skill set, the main dish serves a lot more.
We have more to learn than being nice and polite,. While those are traits one will certainly need for success, I want to focus on exactly what true EI & ER are and why I teach it as a skillset to groups, schools, social settings, private sessions and seminars.
From an early age, children read our faces, body languages and tone and are sometimes able to recognize or at least familiarize that with emotions. By age 3, your child should be well on their way to recognizing their own feelings and the feelings of others and begin the emotional management system of life.
I am a mental health mentor, and mostly see children who missed these fundamentals in their up bringing somehow, whether through lack of modeling, social and economic disparity or trauma, things have gone amiss. There are many ways to disrupt the pathways to true and vibrant learning, but EI & ER is skill-set for absolutely everone at every age and every stage. There is always something else to learn!
So, what’s it really about? Here's an overview.
I feel like the big one is Self-Awareness, and I teach this by first introducing love and acceptance of self. I do this by working with children on their basic likes and dislikes and then rolling that into, “what does that like, or dislike feel like to you?” Working up from there, we start to explore how to handle the emotions that arise from being self-aware, and putting an If/When plan in place if needed. This leadership skill and understanding will enable your child to improve school and team performance.
Social Awareness is one that will encompass empathy and the “nice & kind” factors. Learning how to be a part of the world and co-exist peacefully and be a part of the solution. Here is where I teach peaceful problem solving, conflict resolution, adaptability and other coping skills. Let’s face it…it’s very difficult to be human on Earth somedays. Keeping a positive outlook and relaying empathy predicts a better overall skillset and goal achievability likelihood. Being able to disagree and still adapt to a project goal is how we move forward in society and not get roadblocked in our thinking.
Emotional Regulation is the ability to recognize the transient emotion no matter the degree of pleasure or displeasure and be able to effectively move through that emotion without having a negative mental health outcome. It’s completely normal and okay to be extremely angry over being cheated, betrayed or any other reason for the most part, but you must be able to regulate that with coping skills. You must not hurt yourself, others, or damage property. This is how we build resilience! Bouncing back from setbacks and staying focused on the goal! You can be angry, but in a smart way.
You must be able to accept the disappointment without causing harm in any way and processing that emotion all the way through and being at baseline emotional stability after the event. This takes much patience and practice, but with all of our mindfulness exercises that we teach, children start to get the hang of it and are able to employ these skills by 4 weeks into the program. (Ask me for the data study I completed).
Which leads into my why! If EI & ER are an 81% predictor of life success, why are we not teaching this as school curriculum? If these skills are deemed crucial by the leaders of the world, then why do we not focus in on it?
I do! All day, every day. The Health Empowerment Series is a youth development program that teaches a skill-set crucial to a successful and fulfilling life. All the above and more. I also teach the importance of nutrition and mental health and am available and legally able to aid any child or adult in a time of emotional need.
In my program, we start in kindergarten. We work our way organically into the school curriculum and go grade by grade making sure each child knows the emotional tools for their age to be able to handle the pressures and joys of everyday life. We teach in a way that feels good and empowers, we model emotional intelligence and regulation through our teacher trainings, and are there for the kiddos as childhood advocates and emotional mentors every single day.
My hope is that by teaching age appropriate EI & ER and advancing in its lessons every single year, we can reduce or even zero out negative mental health outcomes like, bullying, low self-esteem, self-sabotage, low grades, feeling lonely and isolated, homicide and suicide. #GenerationKindful, where academia meets emotions!
It is my absolute certainty, that if we are not protecting our mental health, we are not preventing negative mental health outcomes. It is high time we stated paying attention to our children’s emotions and I will continue my work until we have an entire generation of not only kind kids, but kids that can excel in life and lead with compassion and understanding, kids that can be inclusive problem solvers and end the BS of todays human failures in decent treatment of others.
This is Generation Kindful, we are SO much more than just kindness, we are total and completely whole children who can do anything at all that they set out to do!
Cheryl Chouman, MPH Founder, Health Empowerment Series #GenerationKindful