The season of giving can be the start to building a child’s emotional intelligence and compassion year round.
Kids are more primed for receiving than giving as the year wears down. They’re simply too hyped about Christmas and Hanukkah presents. Still, winter holidays tend to stress the virtue of giving, which require emotional intelligence—the ability to recognize someone else’s emotions while managing one’s own. That means the holiday season is the perfect time for parents to lean into lessons that help kids amp up their emotional intelligence, and have fun doing it.
“Emotional intelligence gives a child a huge advantage,” says Michele Borba, author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. Kids with emotional intelligence have better friendships and experience less conflict, she says, ultimately leading to better test scores and jobs. “It’s the gateway to empathy—and empathy in action, which is compassion.”
Gratitude is a great place to start. With all the gift giving this winter, there will be ample opportunities for children to practice being grateful via thank you cards or video calls with relatives. The emphasis, Borba says, is on “practice”. Because at first, the youngest children probably won’t understand gratitude, or how saying “thank you” shows it. To help, parents can couch gratitude in telling their littlest kids to imagine how it can make other’s feel. “When you write the thank…