The present situation is unforeseeable, insecure and scary for many people in the world. I am scared about future too. But I need to take many steps to keep my mental health where it is now, not to sink which would be so easy. I need to keep myself sane in order to care for my family, especially to help my 3,5 years old son B. to cope with this abnormal situation.

I decided to write few upcoming posts about steps we took and take to cope with the current situation. Hopefully, it inspires you…

In this first post I focus on developing emotional intelligence in family members. I intentionally mention family members, as I think everyone can improve their life and approaches she/he uses.

According to Mayer and Salovey’s 1997 model, it [emotional intelligence] comprises four abilities: to perceive and appraise emotions accurately; to access and evoke emotions when they facilitate cognition; to comprehend emotional language and make use of emotional information; and to regulate one’s own and others’ emotions to promote growth and well-being.

Keyword Emotional intelligence in: VandenBos, G. R. 2007. APA Dictionary of Psychology. Washington: American Psychological Association, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4338-1944-5. 1204 p.

Make peace, kindness and friendship “new” normal

Even before B. was born I collected books, games, videos, audios and other materials about friendship, emotions, peace, acceptance and respect. I refused to have at home any “traditional” stories (e.g. Little Red Riding Hood) or books where violence is often absolutely normal. I censored all the books from my childhood and all the materials that I bought or we got. I keep censoring because my standards have been changing over time – I am getting more and more strict about this rule, because I see how inappropriate books and materials affect B.’s behavior in a negative way.

Model

Parents are the teachers of their own child. I observe, explore, work with and process my own emotions, express my feelings, apologize when needed. Knowing myself better enables me to be more empathetic to others, especially to members of my family. While it tends to be easier to be empathetic to strangers in need, it may be more difficult with family members who sometimes “exercise” my patience.

Although I have started exposing B. to materials developing emotional intelligence around his second birthday, all three of us have still a lot to learn. We are teachers to each other.

Books about emotions

I consider books very useful for learning about emotions because children can in a short time see what causes the problem and how it was solved. They can identify with characters and therefore through their play “rehearse” difficult situations. B. usually identifies with at least one character from every story we read. Then he says: “I am everything, I am everyone.” Based on identification with characters I can understand my child better. Here I list several books about emotions in various languages that we own.

Materials from the author Iryna Zelyk.
  • Ľúbim ťa (I Love You) by Iryna Zelyk. A snail named Felix works hard to be liked by his mother until he realizes that his mother loves him no matter what… The book is available just in Slovak language.
  • Kto je rýchlejší? (Who Is Faster?) by Iryna Zelyk. A wolf named Blesk (Lightning) explores self-love and self-esteem. The book is available just in Slovak language.
  • Ja a pánko Hnev (Me and Mr. Anger) by Iryna Zelyk. A fox named Umu learns about how to work with his anger. The book is available just in Slovak language.
  • O dvoch jašteričkách a slnku (About Two Lizards and the Sun) by Iryna Zelyk. Two lizards – siblings Lili and Lolo learn how to cope with envy and jealousy. The book is available just in Slovak language.
  • Ahoj, Strach! (Hello Fear) by Iryna Zelyk. All the animals from books mentioned above have their fears and they learn how to work with it. The book is available just in Slovak language.
  • The Rabbit Listened (published in Spanish as Estoy contigo and German as Häschen tröstet) by Cori Doerfeld. A boy’s block construction has been destroyed and everyone seems to know better what he should feel at that moment. When a rabbit comes and listens, the boy has an opportunity go through many emotions and process them.
  • The Colour Monster (published in Spanish as El monstruo de colores and German as Das Farbenmonster) by Anna Llenas. Various emotions have colors assigned which makes it easier for children to recognize emotions throughout the book. A book may be accompanied by a coloring book.
  • F is for Feelings by Goldie Millar. Author found emotions for each alphabet letter. Illustrations help children understand each emotion.
  • It’s Okay to Not Be Okay – Adults Get Big Feelings Too by Danielle Sherman-Lazar. A book about emotions from the parent who has mental health struggles. What I love the most about this book is a semicolon metaphore.
  • Talking About Feelings by Jayneen Sanders. This book enables children to explore how they are feeling at the moment of reading.
Various books and a game Dúhovka.
  • How Big Are Your Worries Little Bear? (published in Spanish as Osito preocupón) by Jayneen Sanders. A bear worries a lot. Everyone tells him not to worry but he worries anyway. Finally his mother helps him with few simple steps how to calm down.
  • You, Me and Empathy (published in Spanish as Tú, yo y empatía) by Jayneen Sanders. A main character Quinn recognizes situations when it is helpful to empathize and recalls situation from her/his life when he/she could feel similarly.
  • The Lion Inside (published in Spanish as Un león dentro and German as Der Löwe in dir) by Rachel Bright. A beautiful story about how fear and bravery are parts of our insides.
  • Jabari Jumps (published in Spanish as Jabari salta) by Gaia Cornwall. A book about fear and how to deal with it and bravely go through a fearful situation.
  • Radosti a starosti opičiaka Eda (Delights and troubles of a Monkey Named Edo) and Radosti a starosti Eda a Emky (Delights and troubles of Edo and Emka) by Michala Šuranová. Situations from everyday family life are depicted in this book. I love that parents in these books make mistakes. Parents are not perfect, no one is. Books are available in Slovak language.

Games to raise emotional awareness

Games about emotions allow players to recall some situations in which they felt certain feeling and express how they solved it or to give advice to others. Here are few games that we have.

  • Emocionálna záhrada (Emotional garden) by Iryna Zelyk. Tasks in this game focus on recalling situations with particular emotions present and describing how it felt in their body or building and strengthening family members connection. Available just in Slovak language.
  • Dúhovka (Rainbow Game) by Monika Sobeková. Game covers various ways to strengthen bonds in the family, includes also expressing emotions, guessing emotions, giving advice, etc.
  • Hravý sprievodca zložitým svetom detských emócií (Playful guide through complicated world of children’s emotions) by Michala Šuranová. This set includes two books (mentioned above), two games and a guide for parents. All components of the set are interconnected, together they create a meaningful complex.
  • Soul Cards for Children by Zuzana Mihálechová. These cards are not a game, they offer ideas for thinking and getting to know myself better. I use them very often, almost every evening.

Video

  • Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. This is the most useful series of videos that I have ever watched. Teaches children and parents how to cope with emotions, new and difficult situations. Episodes are accompanied with very short easy-to-remember songs that we use in our everyday life too. Literally, Daniel Tiger saves our family peace. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is available online in many languages.

Audio

One’s emotional intelligence serves as a base for understanding other people. And I consider it crucial in creating peace in the family, therefore in the country, therefore in the world.

I hope that my tips on emotional intelligence of the whole family are useful for you. I wish you beautiful moments while creating peace in your family!

Read a related article about our calming basket.

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