What is emotional intelligence? It is the ability to identify and manage your own emotional and the emotions of others. This is a critical facet to human relations and building relationships.
- Acknowledge your child’s perspective and empathize: Even if you can’t “do anything” about what upsets your child, empathize. Just being understood helps humans let go of troubling emotions. This encourages emotional intelligence because feeling understood triggers soothing biochemical hormones and children develop empathy by experiencing it from others. You are also teaching your child how to reflect on their own emotions.
- Allow expression: Accept your child’s emotions, rather than denying or minimizing them, which gives children the message that some feelings are shameful or unacceptable. This encourages emotional intelligence because your acceptance helps your child accept his/her emotions. Your acceptance teaches your child that his/her emotional life is not dangerous or shameful and in fact is universal and manageable.
- Listen to your child’s feelings: Your child needs a chance to feel heard while he/she expresses their feelings. Once they feel they are able to express them, they can let go and move on. This encourages emotional intelligence because when we help our children feel safe enough to express their emotions, we not only heal their psyche but help them trust their own emotional process. Then they can handle their own emotions as they get older.
- Teach problem solving: Emotions are messages. Once kids feel their emotions are understood and accepted, their feelings lose charge and they are ready to problem solve. Help your child brainstorm if they feel they cannot do it themselves. This encourages emotional intelligence because kids need to know how to find constructive solutions to problems.
- Play it out: When you notice a negative pattern, recognize that your child has some big feelings he/she doesn’t know how to handle, step in with the best medicine……play. This encourages emotional intelligence because all children experience big feelings on a daily basis. Emotionally healthy kids process these feelings with play. Helping your child “play” out his/her big inner conflicts lets him/her resolve them so he/she can move on to the next age appropriate developmental challenge.
By teaching emotional intelligence your child will possess emotional awareness, the ability to manage emotions as well as the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving.