Updated: Aug 24, 2019
All parents want their children to receive the best education. We teach them how to brush their teeth, how to ride the bike, and how to tie their shoelaces, but it is also our responsibility to teach them how to identify and manage their emotions.
Unfortunately, the current educational system continues to undervalue the importance of emotional intelligence, which is defined as our ability to understand and manage our emotions and those around us. However, research shows that preschoolers who learn to manage their emotions become better problem solvers when faced with an emotional situation. In teenagers, mastering emotional intelligence is associated with an increased ability to cope with stressful situations and greater self-esteem.
Teaching our kids emotional intelligence, how to recognize and manage their emotions, understand where they come from and teach them how to deal with them, can dramatically improve the quality of their lives and lifelong fulfillment.
If you wish to develop your child’s emotional intelligence, it is essential to build a safe environment where emotions can be expressed openly and let them express all emotions, not only the positive ones but also allowing your child to experience negative emotions fully.
Sometimes, as a parent, it can be challenging for us to see our child unhappy or frustrated, but minimizing the emotion, or underlying the problem, or wanting to fast the process to feel happy again, may offer an immediate relief to a parent and child, but won’t help a child in the long term.
According to Adelle Cadieux, a pediatric psychologist at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids (USA), poor emotional regulation can result in increased health issues, such as headaches, stomachaches, overeating, food withdrawals, and changes in sleep habits.
Here are 4 practical strategies on how to help your children understand and manage their emotions better:
1.) Be an example
Family life is the first school that teaches a child emotional learning. Good parenting does not include only intellect. Good parenting involves emotions. For parents, this means being aware of their own emotions and their impact on others, being able to empathize, control impulses or be able to cope with life’s ups and downs. Helping our children growing up is growing up ourselves.
2.) Create a trusted environment
If we want our children to navigate positive and negative emotions, we have to create a trusted environment where emotions are encouraged to be expressed, knowing they won’t be rejected, punished, or shamed for whatever they feel.
3.) Allow your children to express all their emotions
Many families have what we call “display rules’’ around emotions, those that are acceptable and those that must be hidden like, for example, you might have heard a parent saying: “Boys don’t cry here.’’
Allow your children to express all their emotions without minimizing them, trying to suppress or push some of them away (for example, ‟Don’t be sad’’).
Welcome the emotions, acknowledge them, empathize, actively listen and create safety (with your touch, your warmth, your tone of voice, your attitude).
Keep in mind that emotions are energy in motion, and they aren’t fixed, they come and go.
4.) Expand their emotional vocabulary
Labeling emotions is a critical skill set for our children. We need to teach them to recognize the experienced emotional state, for example, whether they’re mad or sad. Labeling emotions are also at the core of our ability to empathize. “How do you think so and so is feeling?’’ We can also use different tools that can help our child to label their emotions and expand their emotional vocabulary.
There are plenty of wonderful children books on the market that introduce children to different specific emotional states.
Would you like to develop your child's emotional intelligence? I'm happy to guide you.
Just contact me at: email@example.com and request a FREE 20-minute individual session.