As every parent knows, the playground all too often turns into a battleground and the sandbox is an arena for much anger and frustration besides the occasional peace and fun. How does your toddler learn to deal with these negative feelings? How can parents nurture children’s emotional intelligence? PeppyPals, an app that teaches empathy, may provide much needed help for an early start.
Modern babies can find their way to youtube on a touchscreen before they can walk and talk. Unsurprisingly, the app market abounds with products designed for the youngest users and teaching a variety of skills – hand-eye coordination, spatial intelligence, language, and basic maths.
But there’s another set of skills that are less tangible and quantifiable and usually out of the focus of children’s game developers. They fall within SEL, or social and emotional learning, and have long been recognized as crucial to raising well-adjusted, confident, kind and sensitive individuals and ultimately, to success and happiness.
Social and emotional intelligence (EQ) essentially has to do with self-awareness, control of one’s own emotions and sensitivity to those of others, the ability to adjust to different situations, and to act with respect for others.
In 2014, a 46-year-old mom of two from Sweden, Rosie Linder, became aware of the gap in the market and decided to try and fill it with PeppyPals. It is a ‘friendship adventure’ for ages 2-8 featuring 5 cute cartoon animals who experience a range of emotions while engaging in various activities and interacting with each other (and with the young players).
Often referred to as the most innovative game to come out of Sweden in years, the app received an enthusiastic welcome in its home country and equally positive international media coverage. In 2015 it won the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTA) Innovation Competition and was selected by Reach for Change and STING Accelerate for its innovative products. The PeppyPals collection has since grown and now includes PeppyPals Farm, PeppyPals Beach, and Reggy’s Play Date, all available for both iOs and Android.
PeppyPals does not use text and language; instead, sounds, graphics and animations are the storytelling tools and taps and swipes are the controls. This makes the game universal and accessible even to the youngest children. In a series of simple stories and situations, they learn to recognize different emotions and discover what makes each animal character happy, sad, scared or angry. Parents can guide their juniors in the process and encourage self-awareness by asking questions not just about the characters but about their child’s own reactions and feelings.
Psychologists and educators are placing ever greater importance on social and emotional skills, collaboration and communication in the learning process. EQ matters just as much as IQ and PeppyPals is there to help parents and caregivers nurture core SEL competencies from a very young age. Needless to say, in a fun and enjoyable way!
In conclusion, we can only admire and share Peppy Pals CEO Rosie Linder’s vision:
“By creating a new generation of children with higher emotional intelligence we are creating a world without bullying, hatred and exclusion.”
More smart games for smart kids:
Best Educational iPad and Android Apps for Toddlers and Babies
Featured image: David Putzer, Flickr