The Best Strategy For Teaching Your Child Emotional Intelligence
Teaching kids to recognize and express their emotions in healthy ways.
Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to express and manage feelings appropriately while respecting the feelings of others. It’s a set of skills that children can begin learning at any age. Being a parent is a challenging and never-ending job. With just a few steps, you can raise children who are bright, self-confident, and better able to navigate the intricacies of life with ease and confidence. Raising an emotionally intelligent child means he is more likely to enjoy strong mental health, satisfying relationships, and a rewarding life.
Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Benefits
Studies have found emotional intelligence provides a variety of benefits that will serve your child well throughout his life. Here are just a few of the ways emotional intelligence is an asset:
- High EQ is linked to high IQ. Children with higher levels of emotional intelligence perform better on standardized tests. They also tend to have higher grades.
- Better relationships. Emotional intelligence skills help kids manage conflict and develop deeper friendships. Adults with high levels of emotional intelligence also report better relationships in their personal and professional lives.
- Childhood EQ is linked to higher success during adulthood. There was a 19-year study published in the American Journal of Public Health. It found that a child’s social and emotional skills in kindergarten may predict lifelong success. Children who were able to share, cooperate and follow directions at age 5 were more likely to obtain college degrees and to begin working full-time jobs by age 25.
- Improved mental health. Individuals with higher levels of emotional intelligence are less likely to experience depression and other mental illnesses.
The benefits of emotional intelligence make sense. A child who can calm himself when he feels angry is likely to do well in difficult circumstances. And a child who can healthily express his emotions will maintain healthier relationships than a child who screams or says mean things when she’s angry. Raising an emotionally intelligent child is rewarding. Both for your child and for you.
The good news is, all kids have the capacity to learn emotional intelligence skills. They just need adults to teach them how.
Use your child’s negative emotions as an opportunity to connect, heal, and grow. Children have a hard time controlling their emotions. Stay compassionate, loving, and kind. Communicate empathy and understanding so that your child can begin to piece together their heightened emotional state. Try saying, “It sounds like you’re frustrated! I totally get it,” or, “You seem so angry right now. Is it because Dapo took your toy? I completely understand why you would be angry.”
Negative emotions are age-appropriate and will eventually subside as kids grow. By disregarding their feelings as insignificant or sending the message that their feelings are bad, you are in effect sending the message that they are bad. This damaging perception can stay with them throughout adulthood.
Help your child put words and meaning to how they’re feeling. Once children can appropriately recognize and label their emotions, they’re more apt to regulating themselves without feeling overwhelmed. Try using phrases like, “I can sense you’re getting upset” or, “It sounds like you’re really hurt.”
Sometimes our kids can do or say things that are downright unacceptable. And it’s hard to understand the emotions that seem unwarranted or irrational. But try putting yourself in your child’s shoes. Ask questions, seek understanding, and convey to them that you’re on their side, you support them. And you’re there to hold their hand through those moments where things feel overwhelming and tough.
Help them find ways of responding differently in the future. Enlist their help in seeking alternative solutions to their struggles. Kids yearn for autonomy, and this is a great way to teach them that they are capable of self-regulating themselves in a world that seems unfair and particularly upsetting. Remind them that all emotions are acceptable but all behaviors are not. Here’s a great phrase to set limits and aid in problem-solving: “I understand you’re upset, but hitting is not okay. How can you express your feelings without hitting next time?”
They have an innate capacity to develop into high functioning adults who can problem-solve and respond intelligently to life’s dilemmas. As children, however, they need a listening ear, a hand to hold, and a parent who can challenge them to reach from within and respond accordingly.
Resource: Readers Digest