Developing Emotional Intelligence in Children

Emotional Intelligence means we are in tune with our emotions and use this information to deal with them in the most effective and healthy way possible.

The challenges of the past few weeks, and uncertainty of the near future is possibly some of the most emotionally difficult time you and your family have experienced. There has been a great deal of information written specifically on how to help children through this time and bring a sense of normalcy into their lives. As this process unfolds, the challenges will continue, and our “normal” will be forever changed.

To help our children and ourselves move through and grow from this time, we can give some extra thought to the concept of Emotional Intelligence; what it means, why it is important and how do we help it develop? Emotional Intelligence means we are in tune with our emotions and use this information to deal with them in the most effective and healthy way possible. It means we understand other people’s emotions and actions and can respond to them appropriately and with empathy. Research has shown Emotional Intelligence contributes to success in life. Here are some of the general concepts for raising Emotionally Intelligent children with some specific insights to the current Coronavirus situation.

Awareness Of Your Own Emotions

Knowing and recognizing your feelings as they arise.

  • Can you express your feelings with appropriate words, and do you model this for your children?
  • Are you tuned into your child’s emotions, and can you help them understand and identify what they are feeling?
  • Do you help them label their feelings and try to understand the reason they may be feeling that way?
  • Do you listen to what they are saying and how they are feeling and validate those feelings as real?

There are so many helpful articles about understanding our feelings now. Read what helps you. Take time to reflect on your own feelings and help your children reflect on theirs. Remember to keep it at their age level. Always remember there are no “wrong” feelings.

Managing Your Own Emotions

Handling feelings so they are expressed in ways that are constructive.

  • Are you able to manage and control your emotions (for the most part) even during difficult times?
  • Do you recognize when your child is feeling troubled and can you help them begin to learn to handle their emotions?
  • Can you model positive responses and behaviors and set an example of how to calm down?
  • Can you help your child learn these techniques?

Modeling all emotions for children is helpful. They can know and understand that parents also get sad, angry, and upset but also need to know and see that parents can manage these emotions in constructive ways. Make a point to show your child positive examples of this in real life, books, movies, or TV. You and your family can also work through these difficult times and let the children help come up with ideas of what to do to best handle emotions.

Motivating Oneself

Directing your emotions toward accomplishing goals and overcoming obstacles.

  • Do you help your child gain confidence in situations that are challenging?
  • Do you share in the interests of your child and help them explore and develop their skills and knowledge in these interests?
  • Do you provide age-appropriate choices for your child, so they can practice making decisions and gain confidence in their ability?

Uncertainty and disrupted routines are scary and disorienting for everyone.

  • What can you do as a family to re-motivate and energize your household?
  • What would be a big project your children would get excited about that you can create and work to feel productive and build skills and a sense of accomplishment?

Empathy For Others

Being sensitive to others’ feelings and perspectives.

  • Do you help point out how others might be feeling in real life, as well as in books and TV shows?
  • Do you use opportunities to set an example as to how to connect with another person and show compassion?
  • Do you teach your child how to treat you and other family members with compassion?

Talk to your children about how this situation impacts family members in different ways, then with your children work to understand and help others feel better. In doing so, it gives your child a sense of control and understanding of the importance of helping others.

Handling Relationships

Being socially aware in managing your own emotions and responding to others.

  • Do you focus on making sure your child builds secure, healthy attachments with other children and adults?
  • Do you help to explain what to expect or what went wrong with an interaction and how they might handle it the next time?
  • Do you demonstrate strong emotional connections by showing empathy and compassion in daily life?
  • Do you participate in age-appropriate play to help your child understand important concepts such as taking turns, and being a gracious loser or winner?
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