“Emotional Intelligence” or EQ refers to the ability to know one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others. It is the quality most employers look for in a potential candidate. Having EQ has also been shown to be a better predictor of “happiness and success” than IQ.
If you’re wondering how to cultivate this essential trait, while raising kids who feel a strong sense of identity, contentment and connection, consider these 10 vital suggestions…
1.) Focus on the relationship you have with your child above all else – Connected kids are happier kids.
2.) See situations from your child’s perspective and help him learn about his emotional world – It’s important to know that kids are always making decisions and forming beliefs based on what they perceive happening around them. This is part of what drives their behavior. However, we need to keep in mind that because they still lack the cognitive development and experience, their perceptions are not always accurate and therefore their behavior will not always make sense. Our ability to empathize with how they experience various situations helps them make sense of their world. Helping them label the emotions they are likely feeling, provides comfort and security, while building emotional intelligence.
3.) Acknowledge and validate your child’s experience and emotions – Feelings are not good or bad; right or wrong. They are simply what make us human. When kids feel acknowledged, accepted and understood, for the full range of their feelings, they develop self-awareness, self-confidence and a sense that they are capable of managing their emotions. In addition, they become less reactive and more receptive to any guidance and suggestions we have to offer.
4.) Consider brain development and have realistic expectations – The logical, rational part of a child’s brain is still developing (up until the age of 26!), so understand that they don’t always have “control” over their emotions and impulses in the way we would hope or expect. Furthermore, kids learn how to regulate their emotions by how we regulate ours. Have patience. Learn about each of their developmental stages.
5.) MODEL the very behavior that you want to see – So often, it’s not what we say, but what we DO that guides children’s actions. Pause before parenting. Those little eyes are always watching. Be it to teach it.
6.) Set limits with both kindness AND firmness – Kids need limits and boundaries. A too kind approach is permissive and a too firm approach is authoritarian. Being kind and firm AT THE SAME TIME is respectful to both child and parent.
7.) Focus on what IS going well – It can be so easy to focus on the negative (tantrums, back talk, defiance etc), yet, there’s actually a lot of “good stuff” happening, when we take the time to really look for it. Kids are natural pleasers.
8.) Be present – Tune in. Listen to your child with genuine interest. Drop any agenda you may have.
9.) Be playful – Play is the language of childhood. Get silly, have fun – life is too short to be taken so seriously!
10.) Love your kids (and yourself!) unconditionally! – Life is messy, imperfect and full of ups and downs. We all make mistakes – it’s how we learn, grow and evolve. Show compassion for yourself and your kids – we’re learning “life lessons” right alongside each other.
All the best,