5 Keys to Preventing Emotional Illiteracy

· September 30, 2017

Emotional illiteracy is a concept that refers to one’s inability to be moved, to feel comfortable, and to manage and take ownership of emotions. It points to a lack of development in even the most basic emotional skills. In this sense, it can be said that we are all born somewhat illiterate.

Therefore, it is the parent’s responsibility to educate their children in this regard, so that emotional illiteracy does not follow them into adulthood. Emotional illiteracy can be prevented by paying attention to basic emotions. 

What does emotional illiteracy look like?

Emotional intelligence is not something that is taught in school. Children learn this from the moment they are born, in relation to their environment and relationships with other people.

On the other hand, emotional intelligence develops when it is practiced often. It helps children be more empathetic and sociable and to have greater self-confidence, which will make them happier in the long run.

To recognize that a person suffers from this deficiency, look for the following signs:

  • Political, sporting, ideological, religious or sexual fanaticism. Many times it is related to things such as separatism, patriotism or racism.
  • Wanting to always be right
  • Autocratic attitude, which is not only seen at a political level, but also perceived individually in different contexts
  • Intolerance of criticism and inflexibility
  • Repression, censorship
  • Stress
  • Physical, emotional and psychological submission
  • Miscellaneous addictions: work, games, alcohol, drugs, food, sex
  • Pessimism
  • Violence
  • Victimism
  • Miscellaneous chronic illnesses
Drawing of girl meditating

5 keys to preventing emotional illiteracy

In order to educate children about their emotions, it is important for parents to know how to handle them.

In this regard, there are basic elements to attend to from the inside. Even if we have not received this type of education, social relations allow us to adapt.

These key points are indispensable in order to be aware of our emotions:

  • Recognizing emotions. Recognize what you feel. Sometimes we feel things that we do not recognize or understand, but it is important to know that those feelings exist.
  • Accepting what you feel. It is convenient to deny the things we feel, whatever they may be. Above all, it is important for us to acknowledge our own feelings. Certain emotions may be embarrassing, but we have to face them.
  • Managing emotions. It’s possible for someone to make observations and then decide what to do with his or her feelings. Give yourself time and let emotions surface when they are ready.
  • Express yourself freely. Once a decision is made, feel the freedom to express that emotion however you wish.
  • Create your own emotions. It is possible to generate emotions from within. This can make life easier, both personally and in relationships. But be aware that this can be perceived by others, affecting us for better or for worse.

Helping children with this process

As we have said, this is not something that is taught at school or that comes with exact instructions. Emotional skills are developed through everyday experiences. Our connection with our environment and family is decisive.

Helping children to evolve in this aspect is a mission that we can undertake with the following recommendations:

Connection with your baby

How parents address their children is important. This interaction generates neural connections that draw a mind map. For example, look at your baby, speak to him and react to his emotions. Emotional intelligence is learned while the child is still in the womb.

Listen to your child

Learning by example is one of the most important ways to develop emotional intelligence. In other words, a child will treat others the same way he is treated. If the parents are cheerful, caring and respectful, the child will act based on this example. The active listening method is very important for a baby to feel cared for.

Help your child identify his emotions

Cartoon boy crying

From an early age, it is imperative that children are able to identify and name their emotions and feelings. They should feel free to express them without fear, and to accept them.

Anger, sadness and joy have the same value. Use games or books to develop more complex emotions, such as frustration.

How they express their emotions

It is normal for very young children to not know what they are really feeling and how to react. Therefore, crying and tantrums are common. That is why they should be told that nothing happens because of crying or fear. They should know that there are positive and negative emotions, and that they are all normal. Never mock their emotions.

Physical contact

Emotional intelligence is also practiced through physical contact. Caresses, hugs and kisses are indispensable for children. The closeness makes them feel more confident, which generates a sense of well-being.