The other afternoon while my husband and I were having lunch at a local restaurant, I overheard the conversation going on at a table near us. A woman and her eight- or nine-year-old granddaughter were discussing the holidays, and the grandmother was explaining that this is the time of year when we think about others who are less fortunate than we are. A gentleman sitting nearby got up to leave, and stopped by their table on his way out. He told them he was so impressed by their conversation that he had just paid their bill!
There’s so much wonderful going on in that little scene, isn’t there? I love that the grandmother was sharing such an important message with her granddaughter. I love the kindness and generosity of the gentleman. And I love that a woman who is clearly a “giver” was in this case the “giftee” of a beautiful surprise (she was shocked, but so grateful)! In the midst of shopping madness, wish lists, and parking lot feuds, that moment right there showed the true meaning of the holidays. This of all seasons is the time to teach young children an “attitude of gratitude”—which will give them the gift of emotional intelligence (EQ) skills to last them their whole lives.
EQ is the process by which children learn to recognize and manage their emotions. Decades of scientific and empirical research show that learning EQ skills in childhood is associated with numerous important life outcomes, including social competence, academic success, and physical and psychological health and well-being. It’s never too early to begin teaching your children EQ skills like empathy, generosity, respect, and tolerance—and now is the perfect time to start.
We can teach kids compassion and empathy skills by helping others in need. Doing these things as a family shows children that giving is as much fun as receiving!
It’s wonderful to be looking outward and thinking of others—but kids also need your focused attention. Here’s how you can do both.
In my decades of working with children around the globe, I’ve learned that feelings are truly universal—and that when children grasp such essential concepts as empathy and generosity, they are off to a positive start in life. ’Tis the season for giving and sharing, so why not start sharing these EQ skills with your children today!
Denise Daniels is a Peabody award-winning broadcast journalist, parenting and child development expert and author who specializes in the social and emotional development of children.