Emotional Intelligence is defined as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. This includes emotional self-regulation, problem solving, and modifying your own behavior to impact the emotions of someone else (source: Psychology Today.com).
My Recognizing & Labeling Emotions post was about teaching individuals with Autism to receptively and expressively identify the basic human emotions.
So what about taking a step beyond just identifying a “happy” facial expression to associating events related to emotions, processing ones own emotions, thinking about how your own actions impacts what others feel, or moving into more complex/multifaceted emotions like worry, guilt, disgust, jealousy, rage, contentment, suspicion, or courage?
As I said in my last emotions post, teaching emotions can get pretty complex!
This post is about programs I may write for my more higher functioning, Aspie kiddos, who often struggle mightily in the area of emotional intelligence. These kids are usually very bright, so (sadly) they are aware that they don’t get called for sleepovers, get picked first for teams at recess, or get invited to birthday parties. They just don’t understand the why.
Unfortunately, I often see higher functioning or older kiddos go without services or treatment because on paper, they seem fine. They don’t need to be toilet trained, they’re making straight A’s, they use Intraverbals all day long…their vocabulary is more expansive than mine! However, when social functioning is assessed that is typically where the deficits emerge.
What’s that? You’d like some examples? Sure, no problem :-)
Here are some suggested strategies for teaching emotional intelligence, with a resource at the bottom for teaching self-regulation:
(I would present large, color photographs to my kiddo and ask them questions about the photo. I would also work on generating discussion not just about the photo, but about the child’s recent experiences, so we can gently step into discussing THEIR emotions/feelings.)
What are these children doing? What games do you like to play with your friends?
Is that boy paying attention in class? How can you tell he isn’t? How do you think that makes the teacher feel?
How does this boy feel? How do you know that? Tell me about a time you felt sad/lonely. If you saw him what could you say to make him feel better?
What are they doing? How would you feel if some kids did that to you? Whats a good way to handle that?
How does the girl in the middle feel? What do you think the other two girls are saying? Tell me about a time you felt left out from the group. How did you handle it?
*Resource: The Incredible 5 Point Scale by Kari Buron & Mitzi Curtis is an amazing, super easy to read resource that uses a behavioral thermometer system to teach: how to recognize your emotional state, how to determine an appropriate reaction, how to identify triggers, and how to problem solve appropriate solutions to deescalate once you have been triggered. It has tons of visuals, and I have used it as a framework to write programs.