Generally, adults think that a child’s life is easy with very little to no problems and easily manageable feelings and emotions related to them. To some extent this perception is right but we should take into account that for young children those problems and emotions related to those problems are huge. It might be easy and unimportant for the grown-ups but for kids, it’s a big deal to manage those big feelings.
What is Emotional Intelligence & Why Is It Important
The ability to identify, understand, control and express emotions is called emotional intelligence. As a person’s ability to manage his or her emotions effectively helps in each and every aspect of their life, emotional intelligence becomes an extremely important predictor of success and happiness. Research has proven that emotional intelligence in kids is one of the strongest predictors of their success in their adulthood.
Some kids are naturally more emotionally intelligent than their peers. These naturally emotionally intelligent kids have an edge over their peers. The best thing about emotional intelligence is that it can be taught and learned. Parents being the most significant people in the lives of their kids can play a very important role to boost emotional intelligence in kids.
The following simple steps help in building a strong foundation for building emotional intelligence in kids.
Name Your Child’s Emotion
For young kids, it’s very difficult to understand their different emotions. The first step you should take in order to build emotional intelligence in kids is by naming the emotion. You should verbally label your child’s emotions by telling them whether they are happy, sad, angry, frustrated, or bored etc.
For example, if your child is sad for not being able to play outside due to bad weather, you must give words to your child’s emotions and feelings.
A simple activity to teach your young kids about different emotions is by making funny faces of different emotions in the mirror. You may start by explaining simple emotions like angry, sad, and happy. You can add more advanced emotions like disgusted, bored, and frustrated once the child is familiar with basic emotions and feelings.
Describe The Feelings Attached To The Emotions
The second step in building emotional intelligence in your young kids is to describe different feeling attached to different emotions.
For example, you may explain to your child that it’s Ok to feel like crying when you are sad or it’s natural to feel rage when you are angry.
Tell your child that different feelings are naturally attached to different emotions and it’s perfectly fine to feel those feelings. Similarly, you must explain to your child that it’s never Ok to negatively express your feelings and cause physical or emotional harm to others.
You may tell your child that it’s perfectly fine to feel angry but these feeling never give you the license to hit, bite or yell.
Validate Your Child’s Feelings
Emotions are strong and many times even adults react out of proportion and are blown away by their feelings. You might feel that your child is overreacting to a certain emotion but you must remember that these feelings are huge for your little one. Your child needs to be heard and understood to feel accepted and be able to manage their emotions.
Whenever your child is going through an emotion, how inappropriate or out of proportion it might look, always validate that emotion and feelings attached to it. Once your child feels validated it becomes easier for them to manage and express that emotion in a positive manner.
Some Simple Tools To Manage Common Emotions
You may teach some simple tools to handle common emotions like sadness, fear, anger, and worry by:
- Taking deep breaths.
- Running around and touching different things.
- Jumping, hoping or doing any other physical activity your child likes.
- Painting, drawing or coloring.
Practice using these tools when your children go through these emotions. Gradually your children will learn to manage big negative emotions on their own.
Be a Good Role Model
Like everything else in parenting your child will learn to build their emotional intelligence the most when they will see you to model ideal emotional intelligence. Show your own emotional intelligence by clearly talking about your own emotions and feelings. Explain in words what you are feeling and how you plan to handle difficult emotions.
Be a good role model by regulating your own emotions well. Work on yourself to be calmer, more composed and kinder parent. The more emotionally intelligent you are the more equipped you will be to guide your child to emotional intelligence.
Emotions are powerful and hard but emotions make us human. Managing emotions is one of the strongest predictors of success and happiness in life. Parents being the most significant people in the lives of young children have the power to build emotional intelligence in their kids.
The first and foremost step to boost emotional intelligence in kids is to label or name the emotion. You must name the emotion your child is going through. Once the child is aware of the emotion the next step would be to explain the feelings attached to that particular emotion.
Validating your child’s feeling teaches them empathy and makes them feel accepted, and understood. Teaching kids simple tools to manage the basic emotions equips them appropriately on the journey of building emotional intelligence in kids.
Last but definitely not the least the best and most effective way to build emotional intelligence in kids is by modeling the desired behavior in front of the kids. Your kids might not listen to your preachy lectures but they will always learn by seeing you model ideal emotional intelligence.
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