Amy Williams is a freelance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.
By Amy K. Williams
As children go through their day, it is inevitable that they will experience a wide array of emotions—the ones they feel as well as those expressed by others. Emotionally intelligent children have an ability to recognize these feelings and make good decisions accordingly. What’s so great about this is that emotional intelligence can be learned, and such learning often starts at home. For parents who want to nurture emotional intelligence in their kids, here are a few suggestions that can ensure your child develops this very important life skill.
Empathize with Your Child
The ability to empathize is an important quality that demonstrates emotional intelligence. Children will readily emulate what they see at home, including whether or not they empathize with others. Much of a child’s behaviors are based upon what they have learned from their parents. This is why it is so important for parents to empathize with their children if they want to encourage them to be emotional intelligent. It is more likely that children will empathize and be kind to others when they have received this from those who are most important to them. For instance, parents can routinely acknowledge their children’s feelings and let them know you care. As a result, the child will feel understood and will learn to display these same empathetic behaviors when they interact with others. This will in turn, strengthen their emotional intelligence skills.
Allow Your Child to Freely Express Their Emotions
Another great way to nurture emotional intelligence in children is to allow them to freely express themselves. Parents should openly accept the full range of emotions that their children display on a daily basis. From bouts of anger and disappointment over not getting something they wanted, to squabbles with siblings, allow your child to express what they are feeling. Unfortunately, minimizing or denying a child’s emotions will send them the wrong message. Such a message will tell them that what they are feeling is not important and that they should suppress their emotions. While a child may learn to hide their feelings, these feelings do not just disappear. Instead, encourage emotional intelligence in your child by acknowledging their emotions—whether good or bad—and letting them know that it is okay to feel that way given the circumstances.
Teach Children to Reflect Back on Their Feelings
Also, teach children early on how to think back on how they were feeling. Children of all ages can greatly benefit from learning how to name and identify their various feelings. As an example, if a child throws a tantrum over something, a parent can say to their child, “I know that you felt frustrated over not being able to do what you wanted. It is okay to feel frustrated over this. What is another way you can respond next time?” Such encouraging words will help the child to recognize their emotions, understand them, and make better decisions in similar situations. In this manner, parents who want to nurture emotional intelligence can Help their children manage their emotions and regulate them going forward. This also means that children can learn how to calm their emotions in tough situations which will give them a chance to think back on the emotions they were experiencing.
Nurture and encourage emotional intelligence in your child by being empathetic towards them, by allowing them to express their emotions and by teaching them how to reflect back on what they have been feeling. Parents can teach children emotional intelligence everyday by displaying qualities of emotional intelligence themselves. From recognizing and understanding the emotions and feelings children are experiencing, to encouraging children to do the same with others, emotional intelligence can bring many benefits towards a child’s well-being, with parents being their children’s greatest teachers.