Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is how a person identifies, evaluates, controls, and expresses their feelings. This is important for our families, because there is a strong correlation between high emotional intelligence and success in life. After All, we want our children to thrive and enjoy the world around them.
By fostering EQ in our kids when they are young, we are empowering them with the ability to communicate, forge strong relationships, handle adversity, be leaders, and live a better life. Over time, our sons and daughters will become more empathetic, compassionate, relatable, and self-aware. Thankfully, building emotional intelligence in children doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here are 9 tips for parents to help with raising an emotionally intelligent child.
1. Start building trust early
As parents, we need to start when our kids are young so we will already have a solid relationship when they encounter problems and adversity. This can happen a variety of ways. For instance, when they are infants we should timely respond to their cues, cries, and needs. As they grow, play games, take walks, or make dinner together to develop a strong relationship.
2. Help your child label their emotions
If we want our kids to develop emotional intelligence, we must teach them how to recognize and name their emotions. This is especially beneficial with small children, because it lets them know we are hearing them and validating their feelings. We can say things like, “I see you are angry and feel upset” or “That smile on your face tells me you are feeling happy”. If we do this often enough, they will learn how to name their own emotions and communicate how they are feeling.
3. Begin an ongoing conversation about emotions
One of the best ways we can support a child while they are learning emotional intelligence is to discuss feelings. We need to tell children what we are feeling, how others make us feel, and how we can deal with our emotions. As a child ages and becomes more verbal, encourage them to share their thoughts. When having a conversation with a child, always remember to avoid yelling, name calling, and harsh judgments. We want them to feel safe and open to sharing their thoughts with us.
4. Lead by example
It’s no secret that we are our child’s first teachers. We need to be especially mindful of how we handle emotions, relationships, and adversity in front of their watchful eyes. It is important that we model the behaviors that we want them to learn.
5. Let them see you apologize
This goes hand in hand with setting a good example, but it is critical our children know how to make-up or admit when they are wrong. If we make a mistake or raise our voice in front of our boys or girls, we need to ensure they witness us attempt to make amends. Apologizing is a powerful life skill that will be needed in school, relationships, friendships, careers, and more.
6. Give back
One of the best ways to develop empathy, the ability to see the world from another person’s shoes, is to volunteer. Find a cause or two that a child is passionate about to get them excited to help others. Besides learning about different perspectives, a child will learn a powerful firsthand lesson about the impact they can have on others.
7. Make it fun!
Harness a child’s love of play to develop and practice emotional intelligence. Role play with dolls, dinosaurs, or Legos. Get creative and bring in emotional intelligence during an afternoon of dress up or playing school. To keep the fun rolling, play games with a child that focus on building skills like recognizing emotions, playing fair, being respectful, and more! The sky’s the limit, just have fun and enjoy the time spent with our sons and daughters.
8. Use the power of books, movies, and songs
Literature and media is full of wonderful stories that deal with emotional intelligence. This is a great way to introduce new concepts, talk about appropriate or inappropriate responses, and develop empathy all from the safety of our own living rooms.
9. Develop their “grit”
We all know that life isn’t always easy and there will be bumps and detours on all of our journeys. This makes it important that our kids learn how to overcome adversity and get back up when life pushes them down. Grit can take many forms, like teaching optimism, looking at problems from a different angle, using humor in difficult situations, and perseverance.
How do you support a child to learn emotional intelligence? Share your tips in the comments below.
Emma is a psychology PhD candidate from Jacksonville State University and a talented communicator. She has a passion for the written word and has a remarkable ability to explain complex topics in layman’s terms. She engages readers with her creative ability to teach as she entertains.