All I Really Need to Know About Emotional Intelligence I Learned in Kindergarten.
When I started my leadership business six years ago, my intent was to work primarily with pre-teens and teens. Having taught fourth and fifth grade for ten years, I recognized a tremendous need for this age group with regard to social and emotional development. In my opinion, the transition from elementary school to middle school is one of the most challenging stages of adolescence, thus my push to reach this demographic.
Last Spring, I was approached by the dynamic duo of Julie Fischer and Michelle Willis at Magical Journey Learning Center, a Pre-K and Kindergarten school in Phoenix. They were interested in contracting my services to teach emotional intelligence to 5-6 year-olds. While I was certainly humbled by the fact that they believed in my program, a number of questions occupied my mind as I considered working with this age group.
Will they really get it?
Can I teach these deep, cerebral concepts to 5 and 6 year-olds?
Will I be able to explain emotional intelligence to someone that is just beginning to understand what emotions even are?
Despite my initial apprehension, I accepted the challenge and the answers to the above questions have been a resounding yes. What I’ve realized is that while the core content I teach remains the same, the context of their life is obviously much different than a pre-teen or teen. Therefore, my job is to teach these concepts using language and metaphors that resonate in their developing minds.
Yesterday, when I walked into the school, I was greeted by a list of 10 things the children have learned as a result of my lessons, in kid language of course (see picture).
I was amazed at the comprehensive nature of the principles they identified. These are the exact principles I teach to adults. The only thing that changes is the language and the context to which we apply them to.
Therefore, I present to you All I Really Need to Know About Emotional Intelligence I Learned in Kindergarten.
#1 – The Ripple Effect
Regardless of my age, everything I say or do has an invisible ripple effect on the people around me. I don’t need to be a part of a certain group or look a certain way to make a difference. Simply put, I MATTER.
#2 – Roots from the tree
While society places a major emphasis on the appearance of the tree (image), it’s the roots of the tree (character) that matter in the end. When I focus on cultivating my roots, my tree will grow exactly as planned.
#3 – Driver / Back Seat
Each day I have a choice. A choice to be a driver or passenger in my own life. When I choose to drive, I am in control of my thoughts, feelings, and actions. When I assume the back seat I become a passenger and other people are now in charge of how I think, feel, and act.
#4 – Trampoline
Everyone is going to have bad days. Everyone is going to experience emotions such as anger and sadness, which move us below the line. However, I have a choice in terms of how long I am going to stay there. My trampolines allow me to move above the line. Whether it’s a peaceful walk or reading a good book, I get to choose.
#5 – Tattle Tongue
I am not in charge of other people. Unless someone is in physical or emotional danger, I seek to be a problem solver, not a tattle teller. While the urge to tattle will always be there, I know it only perpetuates the problem.
#6 – Volcano Mouth
My words are powerful. There will be times when the words that resonate in my mind are hurtful or condescending. Rather than letting the volcano explode, I can choose to manage it with deep breathing.
#7 – Bucket fillers and dippers
Everyone walks around carrying an invisible bucket, which serves as a symbol of our self-esteem. All day long, we are either filling buckets or dipping from buckets as a result of the things we say or do. I want to be a bucket filler, not a bucket dipper.
#8 – You get to choose
My attitude is contagious. Every new day is an opportunity for me to choose my attitude. If I choose to be negative, I will spread my negative germs. If I choose to be positive, I will spread my positive germs.
#9 – Good Wolf / Bad Wolf
Each one of us is fighting an internal battle. It’s a battle between the good wolf (positive) and the bad wolf (negative). Which one wins? Whichever one I feed the most.
#10 – Fountain / Drain
When I choose to feed the good wolf, I become a fountain of joy, love, and hope. When I choose to feed the bad wolf, I drain the energy of the people around me.
Imagine what this world would look like if each of us, regardless of age, attempted to live these principles.
My mission is to be a spark that ignites positive change in the lives of others. Will you join me?
If you’d like to learn more about any of my services, I invite you contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.