Going back to school after more than 2 months of vacation can be very exciting for some students, but very stressful for others - especially if they are going to change schools, cycle or class! So much change from one day to the next. For everything to go better, it is essential to promote your child's Emotional Intelligence.
The passage to the 5th grade is a critical moment in a child's growth.
Most kids change schools, and whether they go with friends or alone, worries like these can fill their heads: “Will I be able to make friends? Will I get good grades? Now that I'm going to be the youngest, how are the older students going to treat me? I bet the teachers won't be our friends like in Primary school… With so many classes and homework, when will I have time to play?”… These questions prevent your Emotional Intelligence from developing in the best possible way.
Apart from the changes in the exterior, their interiors are also changing.
Puberty begins to arrive, for some early for others later, curiosity about sexuality tends to arise, crushes and dating become a central topic of conversation. With this also arises the need to belong to a group, to be popular, to find one's place in the 'social hierarchy'. And from there, bullying behaviors can set in without anyone being aware of it. Having a strong Emotional Intelligence is essential at this stage.
Calm down, I'm not trying to scare parents! But if you thought your kids were already on "autopilot" and you just needed to remind them to do their homework, I’m sorry to tell you that you are wrong… This is a pivotal age when your children will need support, even if it seems they no longer want it. In this transition period from childhood to adolescence, they will have many doubts, test many limits and make many mistakes! Therefore, you as a parent are essential to help them create healthy habits and positive relationships, by promoting their Emotional Intelligence.
Each child goes through this phase differently.
For some, it is the best years of youth, for others it is the black years they prefer to forget. For me, it was not an easy year, so I know how important parental support is at this stage. I changed schools on my own, to a class where almost everyone already had groups formed. I didn't identify with my colleagues at the outset, and it took me a long time to find my place.
I started to relate with a group of colleagues from another class, but I also felt uncomfortable there, the relationships were toxic and the bullying was concealed, but always present. I ended up dedicating myself to school and concentrating on getting good grades, which helped me deal with the frustrations of social life. It was only later that I was able to find good friends and people who liked me in my class. Hence, knowing how important Emotional Intelligence is for this phase.
An age of increasing bullying.
Now, at my work as a No Bully Portugal trainer, I spend time with many 5th grade and older students, and I easily see similar situations where certain students are excluded because they are new or different, where older colleagues take advantage of young to buy them their lunch or steal their soccer ball, where aggressions and insults to the weaker are recurrent. Despite all this I observe, I also see a great potential for kindness, affection, respect and friendship in these kids, they are not little monsters! But such potential is only unleashed if their surroundings are positive, and parents are their first examples and supporters.
5 TIPS FOR PROMOTING YOUR CHILDREN'S EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND SUPPORTING THEM IN THIS PHASE:
- Talk about their expectations and fears - as much as we want to generalize, each child is unique, only if you talk to your child will you know what is on his mind. Try to be a "Coach" for your child - without being too inquisitive, ask him what you think this new year will be like, if you feel prepared, if you have anything to worry about. Themes such as friendships, classes, teachers, extracurricular activities, among others, can be interesting to explore. Try to remember your experience at this age, what worried you? What helped you? This type of conversations will promote your Emotional Intelligence.
- Remind them that they can count on you - it is always a comfort to know that our parents are there to support us when things are not going well! Show him that he can talk to you about any problem and that it will help you find a solution, even when you do something wrong. If he is afraid of being punished or harshly reprimanded, he will prefer not to tell, and thus the trust and communication between the two are severed. With this I do not say that I pat him on the back if he misses classes without reason, of course! But realizing why he does it (may be because he feels excluded in class, or to impress a colleague, or because a teacher treats him less well) and finding a way for him not to repeat it is the most important. Feeling this support will reinforce your Emotional Intelligence.
- Teach them how to be in a group and to choose good friends - "“how do I know if he is really my friend?”. We are not all born with the ability to make friends everywhere we go, some need a little help! Some sin by aggression and remove who could be their friend, others easily become submissive and accept abuse from colleagues, and there are also those who isolate themselves from the world and wait for them to come to them. These behaviors are not eternal and can vary depending on your child's environment. Look out for signs of irritability, marked sadness or increased aggression, which may mean that things are not going well at school. Ask him about his colleagues, who he usually hangs out with, what he likes to do during breaks, who he sits in class with ... Tell him what a good friend is and how to be nice and open to meeting different people. Encourage him to combine activities with his colleagues, but also to know when to say "no" to something he doesn't like. With this, you will be developing your Emotional Intelligence.
- Show them that learning can be fun and exciting - when you move to the 5th year, the teachers' demand makes a big leap, the TPC’s increase and the time to play reduces considerably. "How dry!" most kids would say. It is true, some classes can be “dry” and nobody likes to have more work from one day to the next. While it is important for your child to follow classes and not be left behind in the subjects, it is also beneficial to manage the pressure at home, accept that there is no need to have 5 at all and that there will be disciplines in which he will have more difficulties. Feeling more relaxed and at ease, there is more space to explore the applications that the subjects have in real life, for example Mathematics in supermarket accounts, or Science in the park at home, or English in the films he like most - so much interesting to learn! Show him that he can be good at just about anything, just work and believe in yourself. Praise his efforts and make him proud of himself for small victories. This will reinforce your Emotional Intelligence. Explain the importance of education for his future life, for what he can achieve if he wants - the sky is the limit! (except if he wants to be an astronaut, there are really no limits).
- Motivate them to get involved in clubs and sports - most schools and educational centers offer several options for extra-curricular activities, some even free. These moments can be very beneficial for strengthening friendships and developing skills that complete your education, including your Emotional Intelligence. And they are an excellent alternative to staying in the afternoons watching TV or playing computer. Explore the options with him and motivate him to try new things, within what he shows interest. However, avoid filling 100% of your child's free time with activities, leave space to be with him and relax as a family!
With these 5 tips, which don't require a lot of effort or time, you can make a huge difference in your child's life at this very important stage of adaptation! And increase your level of Emotional Intelligence, which will help you throughout your life. Will you try it out? I would love to know how it work out with your children!
Visionary Pacifist at No Bully Portugal
For more questions about bullying prevention and Emotional Intelligence: