I know that as parents it’s easy to get excited when your young child begins to surprise you with all the information that they are learning at school.  They begin to sing songs on the way home, or point out letters on the signs they see along the road.  This is exciting!  We all want to know that our children are showing signs of progress in their learning.

As exciting as this rote learning is though, there is a type of learning that I feel is the most important and something that we pay a great deal of attention to here at Learning Tree.  This is the area of Social and Emotional Learning, often referred to as emotional intelligence.  I feel that it is so important to the overall development of the child. Having a child that knows how to manage his or her emotions, make responsible decisions, and resolve conflicts non-violently, is like pushing them to the head of the class when it comes to learning all of the other information presented to them.

As parents there are a number of strategies that can be used at home to help nurture and emotionally intelligent child.

Be a good listener:  Listening is a “core competency skill” and needs to be used by both the parent and the child.  Sometimes as parents we rush our child through what they are saying or fill in the blanks or finish their sentences.  This teaches the child to not listen in their own learning situations.  Try to be patient and let the child express their complete thought no matter how slow or broken up it might be.

Model the behavior you seek:  Children learn a great deal about relationships from observing the behavior of their parents.  As parents we should always consider the impact of our actions on our kids.

Nurture your child’s self-esteem:  Children with a good self-esteem are happier and do better in school.   A good strategy for fostering self-esteem includes giving your child responsibilities and showing your appreciation for a job well done.

Respect differences:  Always resist the urge to compare your child to friends or siblings. Instead, honor your child’s accomplishments and support him or her in their challenges.

Raising an emotionally intelligent child is like moving them to the head of the class.