Want to raise a child with emotional intelligence? Then you need the right parenting strategies.
Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is a better predictor of success in life than IQ. The good thing is that EQ is not fixed at birth and a parent’s input can go a long way to growing a child’s EQ. In fact, EQ is a perfect example of nurture influencing nature in the nuture/nature debate when it comes to early childhood development. So much so, that in my book Future-proof Your Child, written with Dr Graeme Codrington, there are 21 tips to enhance your child’s EQ in the section on helping your child to develop what we call X-factors for success.
A well developed EQ helps children with the following, among many other things:
- Know and understand themselves
- Label their emotions
- Acknowledge their feelings
- Relate to others
- Form friendships
- Have understanding and empathy for others
- Be able to work in a group
- Control their emotions
- Manage their moods
- Control impulsivity
- Take responsibility for their actions and feelings
Parenting tips for improving your child’s EQ
- Accept that as a human being your child has emotions and emotional responses, just like you.
- Teach them to label their feelings.
- Encourage them to talk about their feelings.
- Give them coping skills to deal with feelings of frustration and anger
- Acknowledge them when they deal with their feelings appropriately
- Let them know that you are always there for them to talk about their feelings whether they be good or bad.
EQ is not taught via a screen but face-to-face
Spend as much face-t0-face time with your children as possible because they learn EQ by seeing how their words and moods impact on other people through body language and facial expressions. They also get to experience how other people’s words and moods impact on them.
You can also use reflective listening which is very useful in helping children to learn what feelings and emotions are and how to label them. Reflective listening involves observing your child’s body language and behaviour and listening to the words they use, and then reflecting back at them using the correct word for the emotion involved. Here are some scenarios below:
- You collect your child from school and they show you a test they didn’t do well in and say, “I worked so hard and it didn’t help.” You say: “You are so disappointed, but I’m proud of all the effort you put in.” Then see what they say next. If you misinterpret their feelings they will correct you.
- Your child gets home from a soccer match and he looks angry. He says that the other team cheated. You say: “You are really upset about this. How did they play unfairly?”
- Your preschooler gets frustrated while trying tie her shoelaces. You say: “You are trying so hard to tie your shoelaces. I am proud of the effort you are making. You can do it.”
EQ is not only about knowing and understanding your own feelings but being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, being able to see or feel the world from their perspective too. This is known as empathy and it comes with emotional maturity. It takes time to develop EQ and children need to see EQ role modelled in their lives to to have first hand experience of how it works. EQ is an essential element necessary to future-proof your child.
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