October 2014 archive

The Link Between Listening and Emotional Intelligence

Parents often ask me how they can build “emotional intelligence” (otherwise known as EQ) in their children? Building EQ often begins with listening. It’s about listening to our child with an open heart VS. listening with the intention of “fixing” a “problem.”

Our job as parents is not to simply fix our children’s problems or their behaviors. Our job, rather, is to strive to understand the deeper meaning of what our child’s behavior is trying to communicate. It’s being open to the possibility that our child may be experiencing emotional pain (fear, sadness, disappointment, shame, isolation…) that is often clouded by the “misbehavior” we see before us. When we are able to slow down and really tune in, we provide our child with the most valuable gift of all, our emotional presence. Through our support and attunement, our child develops empathy for himself and eventually for others (the heart of EQ). He is then in a better position to find his own solutions.

The true key to accomplishing this begins with us. Strive to take care of yourself in order to be truly present for your family – a peaceful parent makes for a peaceful family!

Another Way to Look at “Anger” and “Frustration”

“Frustrated” or “Angry” are common go-to emotions for many kids (adults too!). Often, these emotions may, at times, be covering over other, more vulnerable feelings such as sadness, disappointment, loneliness etc. In other words, for many, especially kids, it’s easier to feel and identify anger/frustration than it is to identify and feel the more “painful” emotions noted above.

So, when you find that your child is expressing a lot of anger, BE CURIOUS. See what other more tender feelings may also be lurking beneath the surface. When parents can help their kids can get in touch with these more tender emotions, they may find the anger and frustration tend to dissipate (this also increases the connection as kids feel heard and understood).

For example, “It sounds like you’re feeling angry that your team lost the basketball game. I’m wondering if you’re ALSO feeling disappointed? I know that if my team lost, I would feel disappointed/sad too.”

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