Ways to Encourage Emotional Intelligence in Children
Emotional intelligence is a very important thing to actively work towards teaching your child and consolidating it once the concept is all secured in their journey of development and growth. A child with emotional intelligence finds it easier to establish connections and relationships with other children their age, and overall later in life as well, and while it might not sound like much, being emotionally intelligent sits at the base of understanding one’s own self and being able to manage better in life when it comes to dealing with their emotions and being considerate for other people’s own feelings and experiences.
The importnce of self-expression
The question is how to encourage this emotional intelligence in children? It’s a parent’s duty to nurture their child(ren)’s mental health, and emotional intelligence is a big part of it. The most common way to support it is to encourage the self-expression of their own feelings, best done by acknowledging your child’s emotions or even trying to make them state them out loud to acknowledge everything themselves in the process as well. Start by speaking up about your own feelings, stating them even when they might not be anything out of common, like just feeling happy or content or relaxed for instance. Encourage your child to do the same, especially after finishing an activity or receiving a gift of some sort, to make it all seem more natural like they’re supposed to reach within themselves and understand their own feelings even if it involves doing so out loud at first. Sometimes, kids might not even know that they’re not feeling all too happy, or they might be aware that something is upsetting them, yet aren’t able to put their finger on what it is that they are currently feeling. Helping them overcome that stage is of utmost importance for a healthy development.
Be present for your child
Being reachable for your child and making it clear that you are there, available to offer emotional support for them whenever it may be needed is also a key factor in encouraging your child to train his or her emotional intelligence. It shows that you create a comfort zone for them to come with the feelings that are bothering them and try to work through them with your help and it strengthens your mutual trust in the process as well. You might start to notice patterns in your child’s behavior and soon learn what usually upsets them and as everything progresses, it will be much easier for both of you to come up with solutions and ways to cope with the emotions that might prove to be troublesome for the little one.
Be a role model
Something that goes hand in hand with the expectation and attempts to get them to reach out to you about their feelings is also the fact that you shouldn’t be a stranger when it comes to sharing and speaking about your feelings as well. That way, not only does it make it easier for the child to overcome their own shyness and approach you with their feelings, but it also trains their empathy and the way they respond to seeing others in distress, which is a very useful skill to learn early on in life and be able to further develop as time passes. Emotional intelligence isn’t limited to being able to deal with their own feelings, but it also involves the ability to help others cope with theirs and sympathizes with the ones around them for better mutual understanding within any sort of relationship they may build. The child learns to be compassionate, considerate of other people’s feelings and much more responsible and mature when it comes to dealing with matters that have a certain emotional weight.
Help them improve their coping mechanisms
Another way to help encourage emotional intelligence in your child is to make it accessible for them to detach themselves from the intense feelings they might be experiencing at the moment and help them cope with them by making up scenarios of outcomes of whatever is bothering them, in a way to calm them down and teach them how to control their own emotions and to not let them get the best of them. Taking decisions in life is always done best with a clear mind and having control over their own emotions is not a skill to pass on during their development, as it’s the key to a lot of problem-solving techniques, and a sure way to satisfying results in whatever the matter at hand presents itself to be.
What’s more, creating various scenarios can eventually destress and even amuse the child, which helps better their mood and helps them keep a clear mind when facing similar experiences later on. Not only that but weighing possible outcomes to whatever issues they might have will also allow for the child and the parent to try to come up with various solutions for various results, which better reinforces the problem-solving skills the child acquires.
Find alternative activities
Lastly, if the child’s emotional distress causes them to manifest physically in ways that tend to get out of hand, like them becoming stubborn or antsy or restless and trying to talk everything out with them doesn’t work right away, you could try to provide ways for them to take out their frustrations through different activities, like stretching or running, or even providing something like a pillow for them to toss or hit around, so long as they don’t build a habit of taking out their frustrations through hitting things. Once they get everything out of their system it will be much easier to talk to them about what’s bothering them and help them deal with their feelings in more productive or beneficial ways instead.
In the end, encouraging emotional intelligence in a child isn’t always an easy task to do, so getting your whole family or household involved in this is a great idea, and will improve everyone’s communication along the way as well, as well as help prevent further added tensions or stress onto the child when they’re struggling with their own emotional distress and aren’t able to properly address it yet.