As parents, caregivers, and educators, one of our most important responsibilities is to help children develop emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others, and it is a critical skill that helps children navigate the ups and downs of life.
Five tips for helping children develop emotional intelligence
- Model Emotional Intelligence: Children learn a great deal from the adults around them. As parents or caregivers, it is important to model emotional intelligence by showing children how to identify and manage their emotions. Talk about your own emotions with your child, and encourage them to do the same. When you are feeling angry, sad, or frustrated, explain why you are feeling that way and how you are managing those emotions. By doing so, you are showing your child that it is okay to have emotions and that it is possible to manage them in healthy ways.
- Help Children Identify Their Emotions: Children often have a difficult time identifying their emotions. They may know that they feel upset, but they may not be able to articulate why. To help children develop emotional intelligence, it is important to help them identify their emotions. Use emotion words (such as “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” “frustrated,” etc.) when talking to your child about their feelings. You can also use books or TV shows to help your child learn about different emotions.
- Teach Children Coping Strategies: Coping strategies are the tools that we use to manage our emotions. As adults, we have developed coping strategies over time, but children may not have the same tools. Teach your child coping strategies, such as taking deep breaths, counting to ten, or taking a break when they feel overwhelmed. Encourage your child to practice these coping strategies when they are feeling strong emotions.
- Encourage Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Encourage your child to practice empathy by talking about other people’s emotions. For example, if you see someone who looks sad, you can say to your child, “That person looks sad. How do you think they are feeling?” By practicing empathy, your child will develop a better understanding of other people’s emotions and will be more likely to show compassion.
- Practice Problem-Solving: Problem-solving is an important skill for emotional intelligence. When your child encounters a problem, encourage them to brainstorm solutions. You can help your child by asking open-ended questions, such as “What do you think you could do?” or “How do you think you could solve this problem?” By practicing problem-solving, your child will develop the skills they need to manage their emotions in difficult situations.
Emotional intelligence is a critical skill that helps children navigate the ups and downs of life. As parents, caregivers, and educators, we can help children develop emotional intelligence by modeling emotional intelligence, helping them identify their emotions, teaching coping strategies, encouraging empathy, and practicing problem-solving. By doing so, we are helping children develop the skills they need to manage their emotions in healthy and productive ways. My Best Me give you the tools to be able to teach these skills in an easy, fun and effective way.