We now know that the role of emotional intelligence in life and academic success is far greater than we realized. An emotionally intelligent child stands a higher chance of achieving happiness in life. Science says that fostering your child’s EQ is an important factor in good parenting, and it also determines school readiness. A child with good emotion regulation skills finds it easier to make and keep friends, to concentrate in class, to understand and follow instructions, and to resist distractions and keep focused on the task at hand. The good news is that it is relatively easy to foster your child’s emotional intelligence.
Here are 10 easy ways you can start working on developing your child’s EQ at home:
1. Share your emotions.
Talking about your emotions is an easy way to develop your child’s emotional intelligence. It also helps your child understand that emotions are a normal part of life. Let your child know when you’re upset, happy, anxious or sad.
2. Be conscious of how you manage your emotions.
Knost once said that “When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.” Research has proven that the family plays an important role in emotion regulation. There is no longer any doubt that your child learns to manage big emotions by watching how you manage yours. In other words, how you react to your emotions ultimately has an impact on how your child learns to differentiate acceptable and expected reactions to emotional situations.
Being aware of how you react to emotion-provoking situations can help teach your child how to react in similar situations.
3. Name your child’s emotions.
Young children are rarely able to name the different types of emotions that influence them. A simple way to strengthen their emotional intelligence is to help them learn to identify the different emotions by naming them. For example, you could say something like “I know you’re upset because you can’t get…” or “I understand you’re angry because…”
4. Work on identifying your child’s triggers.
An important phase in developing your child’s EQ is understanding what triggers her emotions. What makes her angry, anxious, or sad? Knowing what triggers your child’s behavior makes it easier to deal with emotion-provoking situations. It is also important to remember that your child’s emotions can be triggered by common but unexpected factors such as hunger, fatigue, reaction to certain food stuffs, etc.
5. Take advantage of every-day opportunities.
Emotions are a normal part of life, which is why we find them everywhere we look: books, your kid’s favorite TV program, movies, the people around us, etc. Taking advantage of the emotions displayed by the people around you can help you initiate the conversation around emotions. This is an easy way to strengthen your child’s emotional intelligence.
6. Focus on appropriate behavior.
A child who finds it difficult to manage his emotions is often wrongly characterized as “difficult” or as a “problem child”. But the problem is that focusing on your child’s negative behavior makes it worse, not better. Instead, start focusing on the positive behavior you want to see. Model what that behavior looks like and let your child know that he is capable of acting appropriately.
7. Validate your child’s emotions.
Our children’s reactions do not always make sense to us, that’s just the way it is. But the thing is, they don’t have to. Whether you understand them or not, your child’s emotions are valid. Invalidating them can teach her to learn to suppress difficult emotions, which can eventually lead to psychological issues later in life. Practicing empathy can help foster your child’s emotional intelligence by helping her feel safe enough to express all her emotions.
8. Avoid labels.
If you repeatedly describe your child as shy, a scaredy-cat, aggressive or by using any other negative term, he is likely to act in ways that reinforce that label. The words you use to describe your child have an impact on how she behaves. Next time, instead of describing your child as “painfully shy”, try “calm” or “observant” and see how that changes everything.
9. Plan ahead.
Planning ahead is a great way to strengthen your child’s emotional intelligence. It means preparing your child to deal with emotion-provoking situations. For example, if she is anxious about starting school, you can find out whether it is possible to visit the school before and/or meet his teachers. You could also explain to her what to expect and tell her that while it is okay to be anxious, she can still have a great day.
10. Give them the tools to succeed.
Nurturing emotional intelligence in your child is not just about teaching him about emotions and how to identify his emotional triggers. It is also about teaching him how to react appropriately to difficult emotion-provoking situations. But trying to determine what works is not always as straight forward as it seems. The thing is, a “one-size-fits-all” approach does not work when determining the tools your kid needs to deal with big emotions effectively. Often, you need to adopt a trial and error approach before you can find a good fit for your kid.
The most important thing to remember about developing your child’s emotional intelligence is that the safer your child feels, the more likely he is to learn to express his emotions appropriately.