By Teresa Gomez, Communications and Marketing

02 April 2019 - 16:40

Managing their emotions helps our children to face life better. So says Begoña Ibarrola, an expert on Emotional Education who talked to us about the keys of how to teach our children to manage their emotions. It promotes family happiness and also helps children to avoid a variety of problems, improving their own wellbeing. It provides them with the necessary resources and strategies to be able to face future life difficulties.

This was one of the main conclusions coming out of the workshop hosted by the psychologist and emotional education expert Begoña Ibarrola. During our Wellbeing Month, the British Council School has organized a whole range of different activities to promote children's wellbeing in the classroom. The students in Primary and Secondary also had talks from the Red Cross and the National Police on subjects such as Racism, Equality, Security on the Internet and Gender-based violence, amongst others.

At the British Council School, we believe that the overall wellbeing of children is key, if we want them to reach their full potential and maximize their own development. That´s why the School supports the “Every Child Matters” initiative. This is a British Government initiative which began in 2003, to watch over the physical and emotional wellbeing of children in the classroom using a range of measures around security, health, enjoyment and achievement. That´s why it is so important that we host these kind of events which this year have taken place throughout a whole month, our Wellbeing Month.

The psychologist Begoña Ibarrola is one of the most renowned experts on emotional intelligence, music therapy and neuro-education. She presented the workshop called “Emotions and Wellbeing”, which was open to parents from the British Council School as well as other schools. Ibarrola is a well known speaker and teacher on subjects such as emotional educational, neuro-education, multiple intelligence and music therapy, a pioneer in this last area in Spain.

Managing Emotions

We have emotions before we are even born, she explained and we able to express these inside our mother´s tummies. This is fairly clear from 3D pregnancy scans. Even before a baby is able to speak, it is able to express itself using gestures and sounds. These let us know how they are feeling, helps them to seek attention, allows them to relate to other people or provides warnings that they feel uncomfortable or something is wrong. This is what is called “genetically programmed communication”.

Psychologists identify 6 basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust and surprise. These are all legitimate emotions which serve a purpose. She explained that, for example, “Happiness, promotes communication, allows us to share good times, creates an atmosphere of wellbeing and is good for our health. But badly managed it can also lead to obsession”. Negative emotions are also important. “Children should be allowed to express Sadness and Parents should support their children in doing so because it promotes self-awareness and reflection”. But another word of warning, because again, “badly managed it can lead to depression”. She went on to say that Fear makes us aware of threats and dangers which is essential for survival. And that, “Anger, helps us to mark boundaries to others, shows that we don't agree and allows us to defend our own values, but can also lead to uncontrolled violence and psychotic behaviour”.

Begoña Ibarrola believes that Happiness is a state of harmony and inward fulfillment, a personal attitude towards life which permeates our whole existence. Scientific research has shown that happiness and wellbeing are 40% dependent on the emotional and cognitive strategies that we develop, 50% dependent on genetics and only 10% dependent on individual circumstances. That's why it's so important to learn how to manage our emotions and to teach our children how to manage theirs, and not to repress them.

When our children are overcome by their emotions, Ibarrola, recommends that “parents should be with their children, they should be calm but not to join in with their chaos”. She gave parents some essential advice to help their children manage emotions: “Teach them to put names to those emotions, to get to know themselves, to like themselves, developing their self-confidence. Teach them to cope with frustration, to learn how to accept that sometimes they can´t have everything. Teach them to stay calm, to think positively and to be assertive and empathetic. And teach them also to learn how to say no and to not always give way to the demands of others.

Activities for all Ages

As part of our Wellbeing Month, The British Council School has also organized a variety of talks by the Red Cross for our Year 7, 9, 10 and 11 students. These were on   a whole range of topics which directly impact students in Primary and Secondary education. Some of the subjects covered were: sustainable development, appropriate Internet usage (given by the National Police), treating others as equals, racism and xenophobia.There was also a session on preventing gender-based violence. (This was part of the “Promoting Equality and Good Behaviour” initiative, in turn associated with the social education and awareness programme, PMORVF, in  Pozuelo de Alarcón).

And remembering the wellbeing of our youngest children, the School also organized a Baby Secret Garden Party, as part of the Bilingual Baby Club, an event aimed at children up to 6 years old, to promote learning and development through English. This was also an opportunity for parents both from the School and outside, to learn more about the advantages of bilingualism from a very early age. The point was to have a good time and for parents to learn how to use Music as well as other sensual, physical and cognitive techniques. As a result, children will have richer experiences, will improve their abilities to communicate and will do so in two languages at the same time.