Once upon a time, all we needed to get a good job were good grades. Things were very easy; good grades equate to good jobs.
All of a sudden, things changed and employers now need more than good grades. They want candidates who are team players, self-motivated, creative, flexible and can deliver outstanding results under pressure.
In other words, they started looking to hire candidates who not only have good grades, but have high emotional intelligence. As a result of this, parents have started realizing the importance of raising an emotionally intelligent child, but many of them don’t know how to go about it.
This article was written to provide you with tips on what you need to know about emotional intelligence as relates to children.
If your child attends a school that provides a well-rounded education, you can almost guarantee that he or she will learn the soft skills that can help to build emotional intelligence. Nevertheless, you still have a role to play.
What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
Before the plunge into tips on raising an emotionally intelligent child, it would be helpful for you to fully understand the concept of emotional intelligence. So what does it mean when it is said that someone has a high emotional intelligence?
According to Positive Psychology, someone with high emotional Intelligence understands his or her own emotions and can manage it in order to self-motivate and create positive interactions.
What Are the Benefits of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child?
- Fosters a healthy relationship among siblings
As humans, conflicts and resolution are part of our life, and for kids, there would always be issues among siblings. However, if the kids have high emotional intelligence, dispute resolving would be easy, and there wouldn’t be unhealthy rivalry among siblings.
- Improves mental health
Depression and mental health issues are now prevalent in our society, but people who are able to control their emotions are less likely to fall into depression. So, by raising an emotionally intelligent child, there is a high chance that your child would be resilient in the face of adversity.
- Increases the chance for a successful adulthood
In 2015, a 19-year study published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed that the level of social and emotional skills of a child at age 5 is enough to predict his or her future success. The research concluded that children who can cooperate and follow direction at that young age are more likely to get a university degree and secure their first job by age 25.
- Builds strong leadership skill
To be a great leader, it is expected that the leader understands his or her team members, knows how they work, and how to inspire and influence them. All these attributes are part of emotional intelligence; so when you commit to raising an emotionally intelligent child, you commit to raising a great leader.
- EQ and IQ are linked
Researchers from the University of Illinois conducted an extensive study with Vietnam veterans and found out that intelligence quotient (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ) are linked. They discovered that when general intelligence went up, emotional intelligence did. In the same vein, research has also revealed that children with high EQ get higher grades in school and perform well on standardized tests.
How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child
Looking at the benefits of emotional intelligence, you definitely want your child to have the skill. Thankfully, it is a teachable skill, and here is how to go about it.
1. Help to recognize emotions
To be emotionally strong, your child needs to be able to recognize and label his or her emotions. This would help the child to understand his or her feelings and be able to self-regulate without feeling overwhelmed. When your child shows any emotion, positive or negative, talk to him or her using emotional words to describe the feelings.
Let’s say your child lost his or her pocket money and was very angry. To help label the emotion, say something like, “It looks like you are angry that you lost your pocket money. Is that right?” If the emotion is sadness, you can say, “You seem sad about losing your pocket money. Don’t worry about it.”
In your commitment to raising an emotionally intelligent child, you shouldn’t only use emotional words when your child shows negative emotions. When your child experiences positive emotion, don’t hesitate to use positive emotional words like “happy,” “excited,” and “thrilled” etc.
2. Don’t punish the expression of emotions
Some parents have the habit of dismissing or punishing their children for being too emotional. This is not a good thing. At their tender age, children are expected to exhibit some negative emotions that can sometimes appear unpleasant to adults. Know that, as they grow up, some of those emotions will subside.
If you dismiss or punish them for being emotional when they are still very young, you are making them feel that being emotional is inhumane; they can hold on to this wrong perception throughout their life.
3. Be empathetic
As adults, we love it when people empathize with us when we undergo personal challenges. Kids love it too. So, in your quest to raise an emotionally intelligent child, empathy is a tool that must be in your arsenal.
When your child starts showing negative emotions, whether you know the reason or not, show empathy. Let’s say your child starts crying because you ask him or her not to eat the chocolate reserved for his or her brother; you can say something such as, “Like you, I feel upset when I don’t get enough of my favourite food. I understand how you feel.”
Saying a statement along that line would make your child see that you understand his or her feelings, and he or she would likely not allow the negative emotion to influence his or her behaviour.
4. Show appropriate ways of expressing feelings
Some kids express their negative feelings by screaming out loud. Others can go to the extreme of breaking the TV screen by throwing something at it. When these happen, it is usually because such kids haven’t been taught the appropriate ways of expressing their emotion.
So, if you are committed to raising an emotionally intelligent child, you must teach your child the acceptable way of expressing his or her feelings. Instead of showing destructive behaviours, encourage your child to speak up when he or she feels unhappy.
5. Teach coping strategies
If you notice, most of the above tips on raising an emotionally intelligent child have been on how to teach the child to be self-aware of his or her emotions. Once the child understands his or her emotions, the time is ripe to teach coping strategies.
You need to teach your child how to calm down and cheer up in difficult situations. The child also needs to know how to face his or her fears.
One recommended strategy you should teach your child involves taking “bubble breaths,” which have been proven to help calm down the body when someone is angry. Bubble breaths involve taking deep breaths through the nose and blowing them out through the mouth.
Another coping strategy regarding raising an emotionally intelligent child is to create what is called a “calm down” kit. These kits would help regulate the child’s feeling, and it can consist of a colouring book, a favourite joke book, soothing music, and other items that can enhance emotions.
The kit items are to be put in a special box decorated by the child. And anytime the child appears upset, he or she is reminded to go get the “calm down” kit and use the items inside to manage the emotion.
6. Teach problem-solving skills
While knowing how to cope with difficult situations is good, it is also important for children to know how to solve problems that make them feel emotionally bad. Teach your child how to brainstorm solution ideas to problems.
Make the child understand that initial solutions don’t have to be good ideas, but he or she should keep brainstorming. After coming up with about five different solutions, then guide him or her in assessing the advantages and disadvantages of each solution. In the end, ask your child to go with the best solution he or she feels will solve the problem.
In brainstorming and implementing solutions, your child may make mistakes. When this happens, work with him or her to analyse where things go wrong and talk about what should have been done better. To be effective in raising an emotionally intelligent child, your role in this problem-solving exercise is to be a coach. Allow your child to come up with the best solutions through your guidance.
7. Show that there is room for improvement
There is always room for improvement in everything in life. As your child grows from childhood to adolescence, he or she would face more complex challenges that may impact his or her emotions. To build your child up for these challenges, don’t stop having conservations about emotional intelligence.
Talk about emotional characters in books and movies and how the characters might have resolved problems without getting into more problems. Also, talk about real-life emotional problems. When your child makes a mistake and acts out of emotion, guide him or her on how to do better in the future.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that even though the above tips are helpful in the quest to raising an emotionally intelligent child, you also need to work on yourself. As a parent, you need to develop your own emotional intelligence.
Like begets like, and research proves that emotionally intelligent parents are more likely to have emotionally intelligent children.