What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ) is the ability to recognise, understand and manage your own emotions. It is also the ability to empathise and communicate with others effectively.
When we raise our children to be emotionally intelligent, we equip them with the skills to manage conflict and develop deeper friendships. Studies also show that higher childhood EQ is linked to higher success during adulthood.
What are some ways you can raise your child to be emotionally intelligent?
Label Your Child’s Emotions
Putting a label on your child’s emotions helps them recognise their feelings. This makes them more aware of their own feelings and more sensitive to emotions present in others.
For example, if your child is upset, mark it by telling them, “it looks like you’re feeling angry right now, is that right?”. Use emotional words like ‘angry’, ‘sad’, and ‘happy’. To make the experience more exciting, you can even use art, a feelings chart, books, or storytelling!
When your child is upset, show them empathy and validate their feelings. This reduces the intensity of their emotions which allows problem-solving and better comprehension of their feelings. This means fewer meltdowns and temper tantrums!
For example, if your child is feeling disappointed because they couldn’t go to the park, tell them: “I understand that you wanted to go to the park and that you’re disappointed. We can go to the park next time instead.”
It also shows them that they can rely on you to understand them, improving your bond.
Develop Problem-Solving Skills
Developing problem-solving skills is a crucial part of building emotional intelligence. This is because your child needs to learn how to cope with extreme feelings and resolve any lingering negative emotions.
Here are some ways to teach problem-solving skills:
1. When they encounter a problem, get them to identify at least five ways they might solve it.
2. Ask questions like ‘what do you do when you’re really upset and just feel like screaming’ and discuss suggestions and answers with your child.
3. When your child makes mistakes, work through what could have been done differently.
Model Appropriate Ways to Express Feelings
Studies show that emotionally intelligent parents are more likely to have emotionally intelligent children. So make it a habit to model appropriate ways to express feelings in your everyday life.
Some appropriate ways to express feelings are:
Teach Healthy Coping Skills
Instead, teach them to calm down, cheer themselves up or vent their emotions in a healthy way. Here are some healthy emotional coping techniques you can teach your child:
Raising an emotionally intelligent child is highly beneficial for your child’s emotional and social development. This is why you should start teaching your child as early as possible (e.g. kindergarten).
As your child grows and develops, continue to follow these tips because they’ll be useful during your child’s teenage years.