Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to perceive, express, understand, and regulate emotions. Within this realm is an individual’s ability to manage their emotional states and those of others. It’s a key way that children can develop resilience and a positive approach to challenges of daily living. That is why parents need to help children grow and flourish this skill early on in their lives. However, emotional intelligence is a complex topic and one that parents are often unsure of how to best approach with their children. Luckily in this article, you will learn nine strategies that will help you to nurture children’s Emotional Intelligence.
Watch Your Child’s Emotions Carefully
One of the best ways to help boost your child’s Emotional Intelligence is to pay close attention to his emotions. One of the most effective ways to do this is by taking an interest in your child and his moods. Take time to notice how your child behaves and what he says when they are happy, sad, angry etc. By doing this, you will learn how your child expresses their emotions and can then help them develop skills for managing those feelings effectively.
When you are showing empathy, you validate your child’s emotions and let them know that it’s okay to feel the way they do. When your child is hurt or angry, for example, show them that you understand why they might be upset and choose words that will help them reduce the intensity of their feelings. For instance, if they are upset because of something that happened at school or someone has said or done something rude to them, tell them how important it is to let people help you when something upsetting happens. It will help them realize that it is okay to reach out to someone when you are upset.
Consider Emotions as an Opportunity for Teaching and Connection
Parents have a unique opportunity to use their child’s emotions to show them how much they care. Consider your child’s behavioral moods as an invitation for conversation. Whether your child is upset, happy, frustrated, or distracted, find out what is bothering them and then use the situation as a catalyst for open discussion or playtime. The wonderful idea is to ask your child to act out how they are feeling. Use this playtime as an opportunity for teaching and connection while also showing your child that you love them no matter how they are feeling.
Talk About Emotions
As you strive to develop your child’s emotional intelligence, it is important that you teach them how to talk about their emotions effectively. A great way to do this is by talking about your emotions, too. One of the best ways to do this is to use “I” messages. You can tell your child how you are feeling using an “I” message. For example, if you are sad because you are missing your mom’s birthday party, say, “I am sad that I am missing Mommy’s birthday party.” Use simple language and avoid criticizing or blaming other people for the way you feel.
Model Effective Ways to Express Feelings
While you talk about emotions with your child, try to model healthy ways of expressing them. One great way to do this is through role-playing. Role-play common emotional situations with your child so that they can see how their actions will affect others. For instance, pretend you are home alone on a rainy night. Try to practice talking to your child about how you feel lost and lonely when you are by yourself. Use this as an example of taking action and doing something constructive when you are feeling upset.
Teach Your Kid to Identify his Triggers
One major element that will help your child flourish in their emotional intelligence is learning the triggers that cause them stress or outrage. It is important to teach your child how to recognize the things that make them feel angry, scared, or sad. If your child knows what triggers their emotions, they can then learn to keep their emotions under control and apply strategies that will help them cope effectively.
Do not Shield Your Children from Difficult Situations
Instead of shielding your children from sadness and grief, try to show them how to handle difficult situations and use those opportunities as a way to learn about healthy ways of managing their feelings. When your child is sad, for instance, explain why he might get upset by saying things like, “Sometimes it feels scary to be sad…because I get worried that no one understands how I feel.” By openly talking about difficult emotions, your child will learn to identify their emotions and find healthy ways to cope.
Teach Healthy Skills for Coping
One of the best ways to help your child develop their emotional intelligence is to teach them healthy skills that they can use when they are upset. Teach your child techniques for relaxation, deep breathing, and focusing on their happy thoughts. Also, one great way to help kids learn how to deal with tense emotions is by creating a kit that helps them regulate their feelings. For example, a favorite joke book, a coloring book, and soothing music are a few items that can help engage kids’ senses and relax their emotions. Place the items in a box that they decorate. Then, when they’re feeling upset, remind them to get their calm down kit and use their tools to manage their feeling and emotions.
Turn Criticism Into an Opportunity to Strengthen your Kid’s EO
Not all people will agree with how you choose to foster your child’s Emotional Quotient, you will have to deal with other people’s remarks to your kid like “stop crying, it’s nothing”, “big boys don’t cry”, “that didn’t hurt”, “be a good girl”, and so on. The problem is that most of these remarks are often made by family and close friends, and it is not easy to learn how to react in the heat of the situation. Turn criticism into an opportunity to talk to your kid about his feelings and emotions. For example, you could say something like: “You remember when your aunt said that it wasn’t ok to cry? I don’t think she meant that you shouldn’t feel sad. I think what she’s trying to say was…”
Nurturing emotional intelligence in children is one of the most rewarding aspects of parenting. If you do it well, your child will learn to control and regulate his emotions. Also, he will learn how to listen and connect with others, which will help him become a well-adjusted, thoughtful young person.