Strengthening self-control with emotional management

December 09, 2016 17:37
Social and emotional learning SEL can promote a child's personal and interpersonal growth, academic attainment and psychological well-being. Photo: Xinhua

In my last article, I highlighted the importance of positive thinking. Today’s focus is on helping our children equip themselves with good emotional management.

While it’s perfectly normal to be happy, angry, sad and joyful in everyday life, these expressions should not be allowed to run wild.

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, social and emotional learning (SEL) is a process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions.

This is also how they set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.

Studies show that SEL can promote one’s personal and interpersonal growth, academic attainment and psychological well-being.

The steps to achieve good emotional management are to understand, analyze and express emotions.

1. Understanding underlying emotions

To understand underlying emotions requires the ability to distinguish and recognize signs that represent such responses.

For instance, we would break into a smile or even dance when we hear some good news. These are clear signs of happiness.

Young children are only capable of distinguishing basic feelings such as happiness, grief or anger. As time goes by, they show more understanding of feelings and are able to describe their state of emotion in words, such as when they are disappointed, depressed, excited, nervous and aggrieved, etc.

Emotions, even apparently negative ones, have their individual value. We should never suppress them.

2. Analyzing emotions

The next step is to get to know the reasons underlying those feelings.

As adults, we should serve as positive role models who are able to relate to our children’s feelings and show empathy toward them.

If your child was saddened by not being invited to his or her friend’s party, you can reply by saying “you must be sad about it” instead of trying to reject his or her unhappiness.

In this way, they become empathetic beings as they are constantly understood and accepted.

3. Expressing emotions

Although there’s no good or bad emotion, there are appropriate and inappropriate ways of expressing them.

We have to educate our children not to take revenge or to inflict harm on others when someone might have made them angry.

When they are exploding, we parents should help calm or soothe their distress by encouraging them to go for a walk or listen to music, for instance.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 8

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Founder and Principal at JEMS Learning House