Teaching kids how to make informed choices
GUEST WRITER: Martha NLand
RECENTLY IT DAWNED UPON ME that perhaps I should add a new aspect to my children’s education, which is the aspect of Emotional Intelligence. As parents we often have to deal with matters such as sibling squabbles, peer influences (bad and good ones), stuff that happens outside of home with friends/teachers/others, bad/good choices that were made by our children, often times when we were not able to be there to help them think/decide.
So while browsing through the library, I came across this book, “Teaching Emotional Intelligence: Making Informed Choices” by Adina Bloom Lewkowicz. I think it’s a pretty good book, that’s divided into 3 sections: Feeling Positive, Thinking Wisely and Acting Sensibly. Topics covered include Self Awareness, Managing Emotions, Choice Making, Self Acceptance, Perfectionism, Friendship, Strengthening Family, Peer Pressure, Put downs, Manipulation, Listening, Assertiveness, Cheating, Abuse and so on.
What I like about this book is that lessons provided are broken down into various activities such as discussion, stories, brainstorming, drama, role play and observation.
So today, we started with Chapter One, about making choices.
Then following an activity suggestion from the book, Nel and Jo took turns walking around the room while the other observed. After the walk, we discussed the choices made while walking around the room. Did they make deliberate choices, or simply walked automatically and then sat down?
After a discussion about how we can think about our choices, the girls walked a second time. The second time, both girls walked with consciously made choices about speed, posture, direction to take when walking, what to do with objects in the way etc. This was quite humorous as they made quite a drama out of it!!
Our discussion went like this:
ME: Suppose a friend visits and says “Let’s play together, but let’s lock your sister out of the room and not include her.” What would you do? Let’s talk first about how you would feel.
A) I’d feel that I really didn’t want to play with my sister. I might dislike her then if she’s been irritating.
B) I’d feel like I needed time alone with my friend, without my sister.
C) I’d want to play with my sister too.
D) I’d like to play with my sister and friend, but don’t know which to choose. Maybe play with my sister later.
ME: Ok, those are true feelings that we feel, and it’s ok to feel that way. Now let’s discuss how we could think these feelings through.
A) I’d think about playing with my friend first and my sister later.
B) I could think to include my sister even if I don’t feel like it.
C) I like my friend’s idea of leaving my sister out, but I shouldn’t hurt my sister.
D) Find a solution like find my sister another friend so she’ll be happy, then I can go play with mine.
ME: Ok, now that you’ve thought about it, here comes the important part. How would you act?
A) Invite another friend over, wait, then let my sister play with her friend, then go play with mine.
B) Sit my friend and sister down, and read them both a story and play together.
C) Encourage my friend to play with my sister.
D) Talk to my sister and explain that I need 10 minutes with my friend first, and promise to play with my sister later.
ME: Ok, good. So we’ve learnt that despite how we feel about a decision, we should first think deliberately before making a decision. Then act on the thought-out decision. We should always make deliberate choices instead of just acting on our feelings. About the above, if we didn’t think, we could have slammed the door on our sister and hurt her badly in reality.
Then a discussion ensued between Jo and Nel about how they’d been hurt by this situation before and we liked solution D.
I think this lesson was so needed and effective (at least for today it was.) I’m sure they will need many more reminders before they consciously put this into practice, but it is a start.
In fact, I realise I need to put this into practice too!
About the author:
Martha is homeschooling mom to two lovely daughters. She is also a volunteer at Start Society, an academy that employs the arts to serve underprivileged children in the community. Martha also blogs at flourpaint.blogspot.com