How to raise emotionally intelligent kids
Children are emotionally charged beings and supporting their emotional growth is an important role for any parent or caregiver. Parents are faced with constant challenges (some days crazier than others), but with a slight change of mindset we can start seeing these tests as opportunities to help our little ones develop their emotional intelligence.
John Gottman, author of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child’, says that ‘emotionally intelligent children will enjoy increased self-confidence, greater physical health, better performance in school, and healthier social relationships’. If you’ve completed emotional intelligence training yourself, you’ll understand that developing emotional intelligence is a positive tool that will equip your children to handle situations with greater empathy, compassion and self-awareness.
Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.
W.E.B Du Bois
To help your kids become more emotionally intelligent you need to set a good example yourself, being mindful of the way you deal with their behaviour and how you interact with them on a daily basis.
Here are 5 ways you can help develop emotional intelligence with your children.
- Promote listening
It’s not always easy, but be patient, listen to your children and let them express their feelings while you actively listen. Create a safe environment that is free from criticism, so they can express themselves without fear of judgement. It can be hard, but try not to interrupt them as they share their feelings.
- Promote compassion and empathy
When your kids are upset it can be hard to create calm, especially when they’ve worked themselves into a state. But, it is possible to show them empathy.
To help your children develop empathy it’s important to show them understanding even in the most challenging moments. Remember that just like us, your children want to feel safe and understood. You don’t have to agree with their behaviour, but show them compassion. Appreciate your child’s differences, simultaneously encouraging them to do the same with others.
Foster forgiveness and use naughty behaviour as an opportunity to learn valuable lessons. Validate their feelings and explain to them carefully why they have acted inappropriately and how they can improve next time.
- Promote problem solving
The first thing to do is acknowledge the problem your child is facing. What are they upset about? Kids often become frustrated when they are faced with a problem, so your role is to calmly acknowledge their feelings, and help them work through the problem to find a solution.
Deep breathing is a powerful tool and may help your children overcome the initial frustration when faced with a challenge. Then validate their feelings, and offer them solutions. If they’re old enough, ask them how they think they could have handled the situation better. Never forget to give them the space to solve the problem themselves before offering up your own ideas.
- Promote morality
Role-playing and reading books with stories rich with life lessons is a fun way to help your children learn right from wrong. Expose them to stories of winning and losing, allowing them to recognise different emotions within the storyline and the choices each character makes, whether good or bad.
- Promote self-awareness
Self-awareness allows children to recognise their own behaviour or performance, celebrate their strengths and overcome challenges. You can help your children develop self-awareness from an early age through praise. Celebrate wins with positivity and award charts. Help your children build healthy self-esteem and encourage self-love by giving them the tools to reach their goals. Be proud of their achievements, no matter how big or small.
Be a good role model. As a parent you need to display self-awareness, admitting when you have made a mistake or could have handled a situation better. Your children will see that it’s not a sign of weakness to admit fault, rather it’s healthier to acknowledge your mistakes so you can work to overcome them.
If you’d like to improve your emotional intelligence, so you can pass these skills on to your little ones, the first module of our Art of Influence eCourse is a 4-week journey to identify how to develop emotional intelligence and how it can enhance both your work and personal life. It’s a unique leadership course exploring the fundamentals of emotional intelligence and trust-based relationships.
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