Your child surely is innocent and hasn’t seen as much of the world as you have but this doesn’t mean they don’t understand some things that happen around them. They may not know about too much mathematics, science and literature, but they have what they need to try making sense of their world. And you know why? Emotional Intelligence.
Also called EQ, emotional intelligence is a set of skills your child has which helps them understand others around them, as well as express how they feel to others around them. Where do they learn this from? You! They have learnt how to show happiness, sadness and anger based on how you express yourself.
But just because they already have some EQ, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t teach them. EQ helps your child make new friends, do well at school and as they grow, it forms an important part of their personal and work life. If you’re wondering how to teach your kids this skill, here are some ways:
Keep your child safe and secure:
Children like to receive attention and affection. Without these, they do not feel safe to express their emotions and as a result, do not learn more about expressing or reacting to emotions. The safety you make your child feel is an important part of teaching them to be emotionally intelligent. They use the love and nurturing from you, to interact nicely with new people that they meet.
Allow them to express emotions
When your child is happy or sad, they most definitely will let you know. A smile on their face, or a sullen expression will tell you how they’re feeling. Rather than snubbing their sad expressions as a “don’t”, allow them to cry or frown once in a while. Avoid telling your boys that they should not cry, and try to cheer them up after acknowledging their anger or sadness.
Handle negative emotions
Don’t allow your child to have a full meltdown. Draw the line, and teach them to handle how they react when they are extremely sad or angry. One way to do this, would be to tell them to take a breath and count from 10 to 1. Ask them to calmly tell you why they feel the way they do, and then talk it out with them. Often, they feel better just getting some time with you.
Ask them “how would you feel?”
As they get older than 5 years or so, they can begin to learn empathy. Empathy is our ability to imagine how we would feel if we were someone else. Younger children may find this difficult because they have to think of someone else, but as they get older, you can use stories, or real-life situations and ask your kids the question, “how would you feel?” This helps them imagine new emotions and think of how the people around them might be feeling.
Name their emotions
Try to use the name of your child’s emotion when you respond to them. Children cannot always name exactly how they feel and they can learn from you, helping them to manage these things better. It will also teach them to express it better around people other than you, and this will help their future friendships and relationships. After all, don’t we know, communication is key, and even better with some clarity.
Set good examples
Your child’s biggest role model is YOU. Make sure that the way you express emotions is a good example to your child - reacting very quickly to things that make you angry for example, teach your child to react aggressively as well, and this is not something you want them to do. So express, control and use your emotions effectively, and your children will follow your example.
It’s never too soon to start teaching your kid, so start when they’re young. Keep the mood of your home healthy and safe, and your child will follow.