Building Emotional Intelligence in Your Children
By Alek S.
Part of being a balanced and healthy person is the ability to empathize, sympathize, and work through our own emotions. We often hear all of this put together in a single phrase: emotional intelligence. As parents, teaching our children to develop emotional intelligence is one of the most important things we can do, as it helps them be social beings that can connect and bond with other people, as well as develop emotional maturity. Although some of this will already be inherent in children, and they will pick up emotional cues that they see happen around them, emotional intelligence is also something that we can teach our kids, and it is something that we should definitely strive to. Here are some tips for building emotional intelligence in your children…
What is emotional intelligence?
First of all, it’s important to identify what exactly we mean when we say emotional intelligence. The psychological term for emotional intelligence is actually emotional quotient, which refers to the ability of a person to recognize, process, control, and communicate emotions. Emotional quotient is what gives us the ability to not overreact to certain emotional stimuli, and to recognize emotions in other people and react accordingly.
Show kids how to recognize their emotions
If we pointed out how an adult was feeling all of the time, it would probably be quite annoying. However, it is something that is absolutely essential for developing and raising kids. When our children are expressing emotions over certain events that happen around them, it’s important to point those emotions out. If they are angry or frustrated, tell them what that is and why they are feeling it. If they are sad or fearful, let them know that it is a natural feeling and why it occurs. This helps kids learn to recognize their own emotions, which is a crucial step to recognizing it in others.
Openly communicate with your children
Although children may not have a very developed sense of emotional intelligence when they are younger, they still have insights and feelings that are complex. Allow yourself to listen to your child and get a real idea of how they are feeling. Sometimes, these acts of expression can teach them profound lessons that they would not otherwise have learned, and all you had to do was listen. On top of that, you listening to your child teaches them the importance of listening, which can help them recognize emotions in other people, later in life. After all, even adults just need an ear to listen to them, every now and then.
Teach them how to work through anger and sadness
It’s important not to only focus on positive emotions in our kids. While we all strive to be happy in life, it is unrealistic to assume that we won’t have times that evoke anger or sadness inside of us. As a matter of fact, it is entirely good that we have these emotions, as there are definitely times that call for both of these emotions. For this reason, it’s good to start learning how to work through these emotions in a positive way while we are still young. If your child is feeling angry, take the time to talk with them and find constructive ways to deal with that anger, as this will help them immensely when they are dealing with more complex emotions later in life.
Talk them through common anxieties
When kids are young, they tend to have very extreme emotions about how they are discovering the world around them. Children can be stunned in amazement at a small, beautiful thing that adults will take for granted, like raindrops on a window or a bug on the sidewalk. However, children can also get incredibly fearful and anxious over simple things. For example, does your child get nervous about a trip to the dentist? During moments like this, be calm and simply talk to them about what they are feeling and try to reason with those emotions. This can help children find productive ways to process fear or anxiety later in life.
"Time spent with cats is never wasted." ~ Sigmund Freud