How To Nurture Emotional Intelligence in Your Child
Guest Post By Scott Reddler
By their very nature children can be unpredictable and even impulsive when it comes to the ways in which they respond to everyday situations. The good news is that parents can take measures to help their children succeed when it comes to how children express their feelings. This is especially true when it comes to nurturing childhood emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand one’s feelings and emotions while also recognizing the various emotions and feelings that are being experienced by others. There are various ways in which parents can help their children develop these skills. Consider the following when it comes to nurturing emotional intelligence in your little one.
Why Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence, a term coined by Daniel Goleman in 1995, refers to the ability to recognize and regulate one’s own emotions, as well as identify the emotions being presented by others. Emotional intelligence has been proven to help children obtain a lifetime of success as they go about interacting with others and forming relationships. As children develop emotional intelligence skills, increasingly they will come to recognize how they personally feel and what emotions they are emitting at any given time. As a result, their social and emotional learning skills, or how they positively manage their emotions during social interactions, will improve as they are better able to interpret other people’s emotions in addition to their own.
Furthermore, emotional intelligence teaches children how to effectively monitor and interpret their emotions. This is because children who are aware of emotions can filter their reactions and behaviors based on their deeper understanding of what is occurring within them and around them—not only how they feel, but how to empathize with what others are feeling is a well. From classroom interactions, to playing on the playground with peers, and while at home when interacting with parents and siblings, high emotional intelligence can lead to good long-term decision-making skills since the child learns how to handle their behaviors based on the emotions that are being displayed by everyone involved.
How to Teach Your Child Emotional Intelligence
Often characterized as good listeners who are caring, sympathetic, optimistic, and self-aware, emotionally intelligent children have the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes. The good news is that this is a critical soft skill that parents can help their children develop with practice. Instilling this ability in a child is an important first step towards setting them up for a successful adulthood.
· Begin by teaching children how to pause before they react. In this practice, children are taught conscious awareness of their feelings as they are encouraged to stop and take a moment to think about what they’re feeling before they respond to someone. Only after they consider their feelings should they take action. For example, if a child becomes angry that a sibling took their toy have the child think about their feelings and come up with a better way to react rather than responding in an angry manner that could escalate the situation.
· Help your child through their feelings. We all experience a myriad array of feelings throughout the day. Happiness, sadness, joy, anger, guilt, defeat and so on are all natural expressions of ourselves and our experiences. Parents can help children get through these various feelings by talking through them together. This includes asking the child directly how they feel, asking the child to explain their feelings further, and by supporting the child through all of the emotions they are experiencing. This contributes to emotional intelligence by not only helping the child recognize their emotions but also how to understand what these emotions mean.
· Encourage open discussions about feelings. Another important way to nurture childhood emotional intelligence is to have on-going discussions about feelings as a family. Parents can talk about their own feelings and they can encourage children to talk about theirs as well. This not only gives children an open forum to be themselves but it helps the entire family make deeper connections where everyone gets to embrace and openly talk about their feelings.
· Praise children for good behaviors. Children respond well to recognition, especially when it comes from their parents. Therefore, praise children and acknowledge them when they successfully control their emotions. For example, let your child know you recognized their efforts of not overreacting when they were faced with a tough situation. Then praise them for a job well done! This will not only make your child feel good but it will also encourage them to keep displaying more self-regulating behaviors.
· Be a model of emotional intelligence yourself. Lastly, be a role model for the changes that you want to see in your child. As a parent, be mindful of your own emotions and the emotions of others, including your child. What better way to practice emotional intelligence than to be an example of it and to nurture it within yourself too as you raise your child to be aware of their emotions for the healthiest interactions with others.
Scott Reddler is an active software developer, water sports fan, and a loving and enthusiastic father of three. He uses his knowledge of new technology to understand how social media and apps are changing the parenting landscape. He enjoys taking his children out for boat rides and exploring his lovely state of Florida.