Most parents want to be sure their child has cognitive intelligence that’s on par with whatever might be appropriate for their age group. But emotional intelligence can be just as important.
Emotional intelligence in a child refers to how they express their emotions—and how aware they are of those emotions.
It also refers to how they handle relationships. Can they show empathy?
Being aware of your emotions and learning how to handle them is a big deal, especially for kids. So, let’s take a look at five tips you can use to help your child increase their emotional intelligence.
Understand Your Child’s Emotions
If you want your child to develop emotional intelligence, you need to set an example. It’s important for you to be aware of your own emotions, as well as those of your child. When you understand their emotions, you can begin to understand their perspective.
Let them act naturally as you observe them. Don’t expect them to “boost” their emotional behaviors just because you’re around. Observing how they naturally act and play, both by themselves and with others, can give you a good idea of how well they understand their emotions.
It will also help you to know what you need to do to boost certain areas of their emotional intelligence. Simply put, it’s a good launching pad.
Connect Through Emotions
If your child is having a difficult time effectively expressing a certain emotion, use it as a connection opportunity.
Instead of punishing them for their behavior, use the moment to coach them through what they’re feeling. Show them effective and healthy ways to work through it that will help to keep them calm along the way.
Let Them Know You Understand
Everyone wants to be heard and understood. Children are no different.
Really listen to your child when they’re trying to tell you how they’re feeling, and label their emotions. By letting them know you understand, you’re actually validating their feelings. When a child feels validated, it can change how they behave as a result of those feelings in the future.
Make It a Learning Experience
Listening and understanding is over half the battle. When your child expresses certain emotions make it a learning experience. You can show them how to be more aware of that particular emotion by labeling the feeling and verbalizing why you think they feel that way (e.g., you are sad because Bobby took your toy).
Additionally, you can teach them how to respond to their emotion, and how to communicate with others about it in a healthy and productive way. Think about how frustrating it would be for you if you truly couldn’t understand what you were feeling. Now, put yourself in your child’s shoes. Helping them to fully process their own emotions can shape their behavior and how they respond to those feelings. Give suggestions for healthy ways to express negative emotions and move through them.
Emotions vs. Behavior
It’s important to teach your child that while all different types of emotions are accepted, all types of behaviors aren’t. A child who is angry may have every right to be. But, when that anger is taken out in the form of violence, it’s a problem.
As noted before, you can be a “coach” for your child when it comes to how they express their emotions. Teaching them appropriate behaviors can have a lasting impact. It can take time to teach them what’s appropriate and what is to be expected. But, with a little patience, you’ll boost their emotional intelligence and help them to understand what their own feelings actually mean.
If you want more information on how to help your child develop emotional intelligence, feel free to contact us. We can go over several more effective tips and how they can make the growth process easier for you and your child.