As parents, it is your responsibility to raise children who have emotional intelligence. In this article, you will find out that it is not as complex as it sounds. In simple terms, Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It means you are making emotions work for you, instead of against you.
Benefits of Emotional Intelligence
Studies have shown that children with high levels of emotional intelligence perform better in school. Emotional intelligence skills help children to have better relationships, manage conflict and develop deeper friendships. Also, children with higher levels of emotional intelligence are less likely to experience depression or other forms of mental illness because they can control their thoughts. Below are five tips on how to raise children with emotional intelligence
As parents, it is easy to lose sight of how children really feel. “Not misbehaving does not mean not upset.” Oftentimes children do not even understand how they are feeling and so, they find it difficult to express it. You can help your children by putting a name to their emotions-at least the emotion you suspect your child is feeling. If your child is upset because he lost a game, you can say, “It looks like you feel really angry right now. Is that right?” If he looks sad, you might say, “Are you feeling disappointed that we aren’t going to visit Grandma and Grandpa today?”
Emotional words such as “angry,” “upset,” “shy” and “painful” can all build a vocabulary to express feelings. Don’t forget to share the words for positive emotions, too, such as “joy,” “excited,” “thrilled” and “hopeful.”Shielding kids from emotional intelligence and then sending them into the world is like sending an athlete to the Olympics with no training. Recognize their feelings now, help them to express themselves the right way and avoid crisis later.
Listen and Show Empathy
When you listen to kids express emotion, you validate their feelings. Children need to feel you really understand them and that you are on their side. When your child is upset, it can be tempting to dismiss how he/she’s feeling. But dismissive comments will teach your child that the way he or she is feeling is wrong or unimportant.
A better approach is to validate their feelings and show empathy, even if you don’t understand why they are so upset. If your child is crying because you told her she cannot go to the park until she cleans her room, say something like, “I feel upset when I don’t get to do what I want too. It’s hard sometimes to keep working when I don’t want to.”
When your child sees that you understand how she’s feeling on the inside, she will feel less compelled to show you how she’s feeling through her behaviour or throwing a tantrum. So rather than scream and cry to show you she’s angry, she’ll feel better when you’ve made it clear that you already understand she’s upset She will understand that feelings are important and that there are consequences for every action.
Model appropriate ways to express feelings
Children need to know how to express their emotions in a socially appropriate way. So while saying, “My feelings are hurt,” or drawing a picture of a sad face could be helpful, screaming and throwing things are not okay. The best way to teach your child how to express feelings is by modelling these skills yourself. So make it a habit to clearly focus on building your skills so you can be an effective role model for your child.
Teach healthy coping and problem solving skills
Once kids understand their emotions, they need to learn how to deal with those emotions in a healthy way. Knowing how to calm themselves down, cheer themselves up, or face their fears can be complicated for little ones. Teach specific skills. For example, your child may benefit from learning how to take a few deep breaths when she’s angry to calm down. A child-friendly way to teach anger management involves telling her to take “bubble breaths.” This means that you breathe in through your nose and blow out through your mouth as if blowing through a bubble wand.
Help your children develop ways they can solve problems by themselves. When your child makes mistakes, talk about it in a calm way. Let them know what could have been done differently and what they can do to resolve any issues. Be that person who corrects in love.
Make emotional intelligence an ongoing goal
No matter how emotionally intelligent your child seems, there is always room for improvement. And there are likely to be some ups and downs throughout childhood and adolescence. As he grows older, he’s likely to face obstacles that will challenge his skills. So make it a goal to incorporate skill-building into your everyday life. When your child is young, talk about feelings everyday.
Talk about the emotions characters in books or in movies might be feeling. Discuss better ways problems might have been solved or strategies characters could use to treat others with respect. As your child grows older, talk about real-life situations. These could be things that he or she is encountering; or it could be a problem you are reading about in the news. As parents, you should use your child’s mistakes as opportunities to teach. With your ongoing support and guidance, your child can develop the emotional intelligence and mental strength he or she will need to succeed in life.