It is no secret that a child's emotional intelligence early on plays a larger role in their success later in life than their IQ or test scores. Right from the very first day you hold your baby in your arms, you are laying the foundation for these important social skills. Through your gaze and your touch, you are establishing trust. Your child has been listening to your voice and the voices of those around you since they were in utero. As baby grows and develops, communication continues to play an important role in their emotional and social development.
Before children even know how to say their first word, they are listening and studying your facial expressions, body language and cues. Eventually they will begin to react to your tone, your expressions and make eye contact. The more you talk and engage with babies and toddlers, the more they learn.
There are four important pieces to the emotional intelligence puzzle. These four qualities are also known as social skills. All of these skills fit together to enable us to function effectively in society:
- Self-awareness - understanding your own emotions
- Self-regulation - being able to manage your emotions
- Self-motivation - using your emotions to achieve your goals
- Empathy - understanding the emotions and feelings of others
One of the most natural ways children learn to interact socially and emotionally is through play. While toys aren't required to encourage emotional learning, they do make it more fun. Here are some play ideas to help build emotional intelligence by encouraging communication and sparking conversation!
Fabric Book Whimsy City (age 6 months+) - Books, even those without words help to spark conversation. While infants are not yet able to speak, the more you talk to them the more they will begin to understand. This fabric book takes the idea of a picture book a step further by providing fun and engaging 3D scenes, optic, sensory and acoustic features to discover. Including an adorable finger puppet frog that can tour through the city in his car!
Stacking Cubes Rapunzel (age 12 months+) - Stacking cubes are so versatile in play. Not only can they nest into each other and stack, but each cube has a number on one side to teach counting, and fun illustrations on the others to encourage story telling. How tall can you build it without knocking it over?
Zooing Around (age 18 months+) - Role play is one of the most natural ways children play. During role play, children have the opportunity to act out situations from their daily life. It also gives little ones the chance to use their imagination to dream up scenarios to problem solve their way through. Exploring fears, goals and fantasies in play helps to prepare children for real life situations. This set includes wooden animal figures and props to let their imagination run wild!
Hamster Clan Board Game (age 4+) - This is a 1-4 player cooperative game that plays in about 15 minutes. Co-op games require players to effectively problem solve by communicating and working together to accomplish a common goal in order to win the game. If the group cannot efficiently work together to complete the task, they lose.
Puppets (All ages!)
Bringing stuffed animals, dolls, and puppets to "life," role playing or mimicking adult behavior - is a vital part of childhood. Children are natural pretenders with boundless imaginations and pretend play provides a release for their creativity! With over 30 adorable HABA puppet characters to choose from, there is no limit to what you and your child can come up with. Re-enact fairy tales, make up your own stories, tell knock knock jokes to make each other laugh! The key here is communication. Puppet play encourages conversation, helps build vocabulary and improves social skills that are particularly important once your child goes off to school. Is your family puppet professionals? Our doorway puppet theater will take your puppet game to the next level. We're talkin' Broadway level, here! Check out our puppet collection and doorway puppet theater for dramatic play fun all year round!
In a world where screens and gadgets are everywhere, face to face communication is more important than ever. Because we are communicating more and more through our devices, it is important for parents to make a conscious effort to put them down and have real conversations with each other. HABA toys and games are a great way to help turn playtime into a social opportunity!