16 Dec How to Build Emotional Intelligence in Your Child?
“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.”
– L. R. Knost
Every parent knows the importance of equipping kids with the intellectual skills they need to succeed in school and life.
But children also need to master their emotions.
You have probably heard the term “emotional intelligence” many times but what exactly is it?
And why is it important for children to develop their emotional intelligence?
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify and understand others and their own emotions and express them naturally.
It includes awareness, understanding and the ability to express and manage one’s emotions.
Leading psychologist and author, Daniel Goleman argued in his New York Times bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ (1996), that EQ is a more important measure of how successful a person is and that there are five key elements to emotional intelligence:
- Self Awareness – knowing one’s emotions
- Self Regulation – managing one’s emotions
- Motivation – motivating oneself
- Empathy – recognizing emotions in others
- Social Skills– handling relationships
Several studies have proven that emotional intelligence predicts future success in relationship and quality of life and while some kids are better in handling emotions, EQ skills can be learned.
So how can we develop higher EQ in Kids?
Acknowledge and Empathize
Help kids tell their stories by listening attentively and calmly when they share difficult feelings.
It is important not to minimize and talk them out of their feelings just to make the “bad feelings” go away or fix whatever is causing them distress.
When feelings are minimized or ignored, they often get expressed through aggressive words and actions, which can ultimately make kids feel anxious or sad.
Instead, look at these experiences as teachable moments to help your kids cope with the big feelings and show them that a good life means experiencing both the ups and downs.
Allow your Children to Express their Feelings
Kids deal with the same feelings that adults do.
They get upset, happy, excited, nervous, worried, angry and embarrassed.
Help your child sort through his feelings and embrace them all.
When you help your child understand and accept his feelings, he is better equipped to manage them effectively.
Actively Listen to your Children
It’s important to establish a safe environment where they can trust you with their thoughts.
Teach your kids that they cannot always choose what emotions to feel, but they can choose what to do with those emotions.
Teach Problem Solving Skills
Whether your child lost a soccer game or he’s forgotten his homework, good problem-solving skills are the key to helping him manage his life.
Evidence suggests that teaching problem-solving skills can improve a child’s mental health.
So when problems arise, don’t rush to solve your child’s problem for him, instead help him brainstorm possible solutions and encourage him to solve the problem on his own.
Help them Develop their Emotional Vocabulary
Kids may find it hard to put into words the emotions that they are feeling so teach them to recognize their own emotions whether it’s happiness, anger, or disappointment as this helps them label their feelings, and will make it easier for them to express it later on.
Dr. Daniel Siegel suggests the idea that we have to “name it to tame it.” He explains how labeling the feeling can help activate the more rational part of the brain, while getting the emotion center of the brain to calm down.
Once children learn to identify their own feelings, they are more likely to become aware of what others are feeling.
If we nurture EQ in our kids at a young age, we are setting them up to a gateway to better learning, friendships, academic success and employment.