As a parent, you would want to support your child in all areas of his or her development. When it comes to intelligence, there is more than academics to consider. Emotional intelligence – the ability to express and manage feelings in a way that respects the feelings of their peers, is equally important a set of skills that children will start picking up at an early age. Studies have found a host of benefits that an emotionally intelligent child may experience:
- Higher levels of IQ linked to EQ
Children with higher levels of emotional intelligence have shown to perform better on standardised tests and have better grades generally.
- Healthier relationships
Deeper friendships and better conflict management have a causative link with emotional intelligence. Adults also report the same phenomena with their professional relationships.
- Mental Well-being
Having a high level of emotional intelligence has been linked to lower occurrences of depression and other mental illness. A child who is better able to make sense of their emotions and react rationally, is more likely to overcome challenges they face in life and calm their own anxieties.
Teaching your child emotional intelligence starts with:
- Identifying their emotions
Promoting awareness of their feelings can be encouraged by labelling them. Identifiers such as ‘upset’, ‘frustrated’, ‘painful’, can build a vocabulary that will better equip your child to communicate their feelings. Don’t forget to recognise the positive emotions as well: ‘joyful’, ‘excited’, ‘happy’.
- Demonstrate empathy
When a child is upset – particularly when they throw tantrums that are on the dramatic side – it can be instinctive to diminish how they are feeling. Dismissive comments or looks invalidate your child’s feelings and make them feel like what they are feeling is wrong. A more productive approach is to show them that their feelings are valid and seen. When your child sees that you can understand what they’re feeling and that you feel the same things too sometimes, they will be better at expressing those feelings in a way more tame than shouting and screaming.
- Teach them coping mechanisms
Understanding ones emotions is primary to managing them. Learning how to deal with those emotions on their own and cheer themselves up can be an empowering life tool that they will carry through their whole lives. Teach them practical tricks like deep breathing or visualisation when they are upset or provide them with tangible tools like colouring books or calming music.