As soon as you become a parent, you have a new responsibility in your hands; you need to raise your child. Raising an emotionally intelligent child is one of the greatest and the most important responsibilities a parent can take.
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests emotional intelligence to be a critical marker of children’s success in the future. Emotionally intelligent children have an advantage over other kids in terms of thinking, potential, and satisfaction. Here are some examples of the benefits of emotional intelligence in children:
Higher intellect: Studies have shown that higher emotional intelligence is proportional to higher IQ. It is made evident through higher scores of emotionally intelligent kids in standardized tests. Usually, such kids tend to do better academically too.
Deeper relationships: Kids with higher emotional intelligence have been seen to develop deeper bonds with other people. They are deft with conflict resolution, communication and have better commitment.
Successful adulthood: Children with high EQ have been observed to be successful adults. During childhood, these children are good with speaking, extracurricular activities, and maintaining friendships. Later in life, they are observed to have a fulfilling life with ease of sharing, teamwork, and cooperation.
Mental health: Emotionally intelligent kids are less likely to experience sudden mental breakdowns, depressive episodes, and outbursts.
What not to do for your child’s emotional strength?
To nurture your child’s emotional intelligence, parents should and shouldn’t do certain things. If you want to help your child be strong, here are 6 things you should absolutely avoid doing.
- Invalidate your child’s feelings
Sometimes kids just blurt their feelings out to you without thinking, and other times it takes a lot of time for them to talk to you. But no matter how they do it or how small of a problem they are telling you about, listen to them.
Don’t resort to saying, “It’s not a big deal.” or “Just don’t worry about it.” When you say this, you are conveying that your child’s feelings are not that important. They may feel like whatever they are expressing doesn’t matter and may not come to you when they feel low the next time.
What to do instead: You need to ensure your kids feel safe expressing their feelings to you. They should see you as their haven, so they feel valid when they open up to you.
Instead of saying it’s not a big deal, try saying, “I know it might feel bad and you are disappointed, but you are strong. You can face it because you are brave enough to beat this challenge.”
- Allow misbehavior
You might want to let your child take out their pent-up emotions on things. Or you might even give them what they need to avoid them throwing a tantrum in front of other kids. When you have a long day of work and are exhausted, not addressing the issue may seem tempting.
But when you are giving in to your child’s tantrums, you teach them that it is okay. If you hand your child the phone after they yell and cry straight for a minute, they’ll think it is the best way to ask for something.
What to do instead: To make your kids emotionally intelligent, let them know their limits. Teach them to think realistically and follow the rules set up by you. Let them face discomfort and help them find better ways given below to cope with how they are feeling.
- Spoil your child
Understandably, you want to get everything for your child. Cute outfits, plush toys, and everything they want emotionally, you want to buy everything for your little angel. But the truth is, it might not be as cute as you think it is.
This can lead to unhealthy overindulgence in kids. If they always get what they want, both in terms of emotions and materials, neither will they know about their limits nor will they grow emotionally strong. Moreover, your child will also not be able to cultivate self-discipline.
All of these things will make your child dependent, materialistic, and unhappy in the long run. Instead of raising an emotionally intelligent child, you will raise an emotionally dependent one.
What to do instead: Rather than always handling your child what they want, set a limit to things you give them. Let them experience disappointment and find their way out of it.
If you’re going to soothe your child and provide them with something, coloring pages for children are always a good idea. They are fun and help your child find a creative outlet.
- Expect too much
Expectations act as motivation when they are set right. But if they are above the roof, expectations affect adversely irrespective of the area. Expecting perfection often leads to disappointment, discouragement, and low morale on your kid’s side.
They might feel pressured, and at some point or the other, they’ll give up on the goal no matter how small or big it is.
This may also lead to self-esteem issues during your little one’s adulthood. They may feel like they are not good enough and overwork themselves to achieve unrealistically set targets.
What to do instead: Set realistic goals for your child. They may have unlimited potential, but they still are kids. When you have your child’s emotional intelligence in mind, you need to set SMART goals, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Use this parameter to develop any plan for your child and prepare them for it.
If the child faces failure and setbacks, turn them into lessons. Please encourage them to do better next time and help them do so.
- Let them influence you
Yes, you want to make your child feel important, and their opinions acknowledged but, you don’t want their decisions to be the supreme authority. In other words, you want to have a balance of respect, freedom, and obedience in your parent-child relationship.
It is suitable for you to discuss important family matters with your kids and ask for their input, but it shouldn’t mean the decision depends on them. Parents should know when and when not to expect an equal vote from their children. Moving to a new city, accepting a new job, spending time with family, and money matters are some examples where it’s best to leave the decision to yourself and not on your child’s feelings.
What to do instead: Share your failures and achievements with your child but keep it clear from the beginning that you are in charge. Show them decision-making requires emotional intelligence, and they need to learn it over time.
This is your chance to explain to them about good leadership and eventually show them what a good leader does. A good leader is kind, listens to everyone’s opinion, and is wise, but the leader does what he finds right.
- Shield them from failures
Nobody wants to see their child fail and go through distress, but it is going to happen eventually. If you try to do their work for them, solve their math problem for them, and constantly run behind them to deliver what they forgot, they will not learn because they know they have a backup.
You might think you are helping them, but you are doing the opposite. This may also be delaying their mental growth as they will always resort to depending on you for the things they can not do. Great lessons are learned in times of distress, so if you shield your child from failures, you are standing in their way of becoming emotionally intelligent children.
What to do instead: Your job as a parent is to show your child the right way and teach them important life lessons. Sometimes you need to get out of the picture and let your child take charge of their situations. When they keep forgetting something, instead of delivering it to them every time, ask them to install reminders.
If they can’t solve a problem, ask them to work on it and help them find the right formula but do not solve it for them; solve an example instead.
If they fail, let them deal with it. Come through with tips to deal with failures and negative emotions, so they work harder the next time.
How to raise an emotionally intelligent child?
To help raise an emotionally intelligent child, you don’t need to do complex things. Follow these 5 easy to follow parenting tips to work towards your child’s growth daily.
- Acknowledge their feelings
As a parent, you must have encountered days when your child feels so low that nothing seems to cheer them up. You bring them snacks, you try to talk to them, but they are not even interested in watching their favorite show.
You must have experienced similar emotions yourself; even a small setback can trigger them. It may feel like your child’s emotional intelligence is compromised.
If it seems like you can’t do anything about it, then don’t. Yes, you read it right. Sometimes the best thing to do is be there by your child’s side.
During a hard time, you being there for them will make them feel acknowledged, and their feelings understood. Try to sit with them in silence, no matter how troubling their emotions seem.
Many children tend to bundle up their emotions and wait till they find a safe environment to release their feelings. If you stay by your child’s side and empathize with them, they’ll find their haven and soothe themselves in their own way. And while you empathize with them, they will learn empathy themselves.
You may not understand the little one’s emotions or not even agree with them, but that will not solve the issue. If you disagree with them, they may recoil and keep everything hidden inside them. You can use these dialogues to speak to them:
“You are sad that it’s raining and you want to go play outside.”
“You want to go out like the big kids, I know.”
“You are sad you don’t have the same toys as them.”
“I know you are sad because (the reason), but it’s time to eat. You can eat in silence if you like.”
When your child is all bundled up, you need to be by their side and listen to their perspective. They may not be the most emotionally intelligent kids yet, but they know they are not feeling so good, so respect their point. While they talk, they’ll learn their emotional trigger and become healthier adults.
- Allow expressions
Your kids do not have as much life experience as you; thus, it isn’t fair for you to compare your and your child’s emotional intelligence. That’s why it is easier for you to be more accepting of their feelings.
As mentioned above, you need to make a safe and comfortable space for your kids. If you disapprove of their feelings or minimize their emotions, they may feel like they are doing something wrong in expressing themselves. In simple words, they may even feel like they are stupid.
But all of this won’t stop your kids from feeling sad or beaten down sometimes. Instead, they’ll feel resentful and even try to repress their emotions, which is self-harming. Imagine how much damage unexpressed feelings and bundled-up anger can do?
Kids take them out in the form of fighting with their siblings or schoolmates, nervousness, breakdowns, or nightmares.
Bundled-up emotions are like acid; they burn the bearer from inside till one of them breaks down.
To raise emotionally intelligent kids, you need to free them from this trap and give them freedom of expression. Kids don’t know how to express themselves, they are like loose cannons, and you need to help them channel their emotions.
It’s time for you to modify your conversation to raise emotionally strong kids. Here is an idea of how to talk to your child:
“You are sad that it’s raining and you want to go play outside, but it is not fair to take out your anger on your sister. Come sit and talk this out with us.”
“You want to go out like the big kids, I know. They are much older than you, you might hurt yourself, but you can play with me while we talk.”
“You are sad you don’t have the same toys as them. But you can still have fun with your toys, see this is how you play.”
“I know you are sad because (the reason), but it’s time to eat. It’s okay if you want to cry; many times, I cry too.”
This will help the child validate their own feelings, and they’ll learn how to handle themselves. Also, your common feelings will teach them it is okay to feel this way; everybody does.
- Lend an ear
Now that you have given your child a safe space to speak and validated their emotions, it’s time to let them express themselves. After all, they won’t feel relieved until they spill their bundled-up feelings. The next step to foster emotional intelligence into kids is to make them feel heard and lend an ear to them.
Once your child talks things out with you, they’ll be calm. But before that happens, you need to make them realize your attention is totally focused on them, and you will not get angry. You yourself need to compose yourself so that you are actively listening to your little one.
You can help your child with these soothing words:
“It seems like you are unhappy. I get upset sometimes, too; I feel okay by talking about it. Come on, tell me about it?”
“Everyone feels like they are so mad they want to scream about it, don’t you? I am here; you can tell me what made you so angry? You can be mad.”
“I know you want me to go away, I will. But I know you may be feeling angry, scared, and you don’t even want to talk. I can sit right here and hug you while you cry?”
“I’ll be right here. You can be mad, scream and cry. But after you are done, I am right here okay.”
Once your child releases their pent-up anger, you’ll notice a shift in their behavior. They’ll be much relaxed, happier, and cooperative.
Isn’t it amazing how much a safe space and loving environment can help your kid’s emotional intelligence? And all you have to do is just be with your child and listen to them till their troubles go away.
- Focus on problem-solving
You have talked your child through their overwhelming emotions; they have vented out and feel relaxed. But it isn’t all as you don’t just want your child to be emotionally dependent on you, but you want them to be emotionally intelligent kids. Emotionally intelligent children may take someone’s help, but they solve their own problems and regulate their emotions.
Kids solving their problems and taking care of their emotions is important too. Through this, they’ll learn to analyze their emotions for a trigger and release. Help them find this, and teach your kids to tolerate these emotions until they are released.
The aim is not to get rid of your child’s emotions; it is to help your child feel them without acting on them.
You may notice when you feel emotionally overwhelmed; you know the cause of it mostly. You know how to compose yourself, too, so you either avoid the trigger or learn how to control your emotions better for the next time. Kids need to learn this over time with you by their side, making them feel understood and accepted.
To help every parent navigate through this, here are some points you need to know:
- Help your kid identify their emotions
During an emotional time, we all are in the habit of asking “How are you?” which is often followed by fine. Instead of asking your child, “How are you?” ask, “What are you feeling?“
This simple question will help solve half of your problems. Rather than answering in the default tone, your kid will have to analyze their feelings and identify how they actually feel. This practice helps nurture self-awareness in children, and it is one step closer to an emotionally intelligent child.
- Encourage solutions
Even if you are with your child, physically and emotionally, you still want them to be independent. Apart from being able to identify their emotions, you want your kids to untangle them too.
Encourage your child to come up with solutions to their problems. Ask them, “What can you do about it?” or “What would you like to do next?” And when they come up with a solution, you need to rationalize it and help them execute it in a kind and logical way.
Practice these lines here to help them kids solve their problems:
“You are upset that nobody saw your drawing; you put so much work into it. But dad and I saw it, it is amazing. Maybe we can think of something else you can draw that they’d like?”
“I know you wanted to play first; you may feel angry. I wonder how you could ask your friends to let you play first?”
“I understand you are disappointed because Sam could not play with you. It would have been fun. But why don’t we think of ideas of more fun things to do?”
- Limit negative emotions
Have you ever wondered why tantrums and outbursts are much more common in children than adults? One prominent reason for this is that children do not have much experience handling emotions, and they do not know how to tackle overwhelming feelings.
Another step towards raising emotionally intelligent kids is limiting their negative emotions. When you realize your child is going through something they might be having difficulty handling, you need to step in.
- Don’t discard negative emotions
You don’t want to expose your child to negativity, but it is a crucial part of your child’s emotional intelligence. They need to know it’s okay to feel this way, and they can regulate it themselves.
To apply this, you need to encourage your kids to talk about it. Don’t let the fear of the emotion be bigger than the actual feeling; tackle their fear of overwhelming feelings!
Sit with your children and share when you have a bad day. Tell them how you managed your emotions so you can model the behavior you want your child to take up.
- Try to play it out
Kids don’t always know how to put their emotions into words; even adults struggle with it at times. So when your child is unable to express his feelings in clear words, it’s time to teach them to play it out!
For example, your child wants a toy someone else is playing with. They have expressed this desire to you, and you know they are upset. You don’t have an option to take a toy someone else is playing with; instead, you can help them play a fun game with their toys.
Make it seem like the toy wants their attention or just play with their toys, so they see you are having fun; maybe they can too. Some jokes and sounds while playing will help them forget the reason they are upset. If they don’t want to play with toys, some fun activities for kids will suffice.
Now the secret to raising emotionally intelligent children is out; it’s your turn to help your child with these tips. Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind and teach your child to be a stronger adult. Want to read more parenting tips? Dive into our carefully curated parenting guide.
What not to do for your child’s emotional strength?
- Invalidate your child’s feelings: Don’t say, “It’s not a big deal.” or “Just don’t worry about it.” When you say this, you are conveying that your child’s feelings are not that important.
- Allow misbehavior: When you are giving in to your child’s tantrums, you are teaching them that it is okay.
- Spoil your child: Handling your child everything they want can lead to unhealthy overindulgence in kids. They will not know about their limits or self-discipline.
- Expect too much: If your expectations are above the roof, they can act adversely irrespective of the area. Your child may feel pressured and develop self-esteem issues.
- Let them influence you: You want to have a balance of respect, freedom, and obedience in your parent-child relationship. Keep it clear from the beginning that you are in charge.
- Shield them from failures: If you try to do their work for them, solve their math problem for them, and constantly run behind them to deliver what they forgot, you’re delaying their mental growth.
How to raise an emotionally intelligent child?
- Acknowledge their feelings: The best thing to do is be there by your child’s side. During a hard time, you being there for them will make them feel acknowledged, and their feelings understood.
- Allow expressions: Kids don’t know how to express themselves, so you need to give them freedom of expression. Make a safe and comfortable space for your kids to help the child validate their own feelings.
- Lend an ear: Make your child feel heard and lend an ear to them. Ensure your attention is totally focused on them and their troubles will go away.
- Focus on problem-solving: Help your kid identify their emotions and encourage them to develop solutions to their problems.
- Limit negative emotions: Encourage your kids to talk about their bad days and try to manage them. You can teach them to play it out after!
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