How To Raise Emotionally Intelligent Kids

As a parent, you want your children to grow up to be kind, compassionate, and ethical human beings. While academic intelligence is important, emotional intelligence is equally vital for leading a fulfilling life. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to understand, express, and regulate emotions in a healthy way. Kids with high emotional intelligence tend to have better social skills, mental health, and life satisfaction.

How To Raise Emotionally Intelligent Kids: Raising Emotionally Intelligent Kids, Cultivating Self-Awareness and Empathy

The good news is that emotional intelligence can be nurtured from a young age. By cultivating your child’s self-awareness and empathy, you lay the foundation for them to become emotionally intelligent adults. Here are some tips on how to raise emotionally intelligent kids.

Help Them Understand Their Emotions

Self-awareness is at the core of emotional intelligence. Kids need to recognise and understand their own emotions before they can manage them appropriately. When your child expresses anger, sadness, or fear, don’t criticise or dismiss their feelings as silly. Instead, help them identify what they’re feeling using simple words like “angry”, “sad”, or “scared”.

You can ask questions like “How are you feeling right now?” or “What do you think made you feel this way?”. Avoid judgmental language and just listen patiently. Validating their emotions will teach them that all feelings are okay, even the difficult ones. Over time, they will become better at recognising and articulating their emotions.

Teach Emotion Identification Skills

Start teaching emotion identification in early childhood. Label your own feelings to model how to articulate emotions. Point out facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice that convey feelings. Use pictures, books, and games to associate feeling words with facial expressions. The earlier children learn to pinpoint emotions, the more self-aware they will become.

Keep Emotion Journals

Around middle childhood, have kids start writing or drawing about their emotional experiences in a journal. Help them label their feelings about events at school, home, or with friends. Also, discuss what triggered those feelings and how they chose to react. Maintaining an emotion journal boosts self-reflection skills essential to managing feelings.

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Discuss Causes of Feelings

When your child shares an emotional experience, explore the root cause together. Help them see the link between events and associated emotions. For example, “You feel disappointed because Daniel didn’t invite you to his party. What could you do to feel better?” Tracing feelings back to sources aids emotional comprehension.

Set a Good Example

Children learn emotional intelligence by observing those around them, especially their parents. They will pick up on how you express and handle anger, stress, and other emotions. Lead by example – when you’re upset, verbalise it in a calm way rather than lashing out. Practise self-soothing techniques like deep breathing when you’re anxious.

Apologise and make amends if you lose your temper unfairly. Showing your child firsthand how to healthily process emotions is more impactful than just telling them what to do. Aim to be someone your child feels comfortable confiding their feelings in.

Express Feelings Constructively

Avoid explosive emotional outbursts in front of your child. Instead, model constructive ways to convey even difficult feelings like anger. For example, “I’m feeling frustrated that you didn’t follow the rules. Let’s talk about this.” State emotions without attacking others’ character. Your level headedness teaches kids emotional regulation.

Apologise After Losing Your Temper

No parent is perfect – you may sometimes display anger or sadness in unproductive ways. After losing your temper, wait till you’re calm, then apologise to your child for not managing those emotions well. Explain you’re working on it too. This models humility, self-reflection and accountability for them to emulate.

Point Out Positive Self-Talk

Let your child overhear the positive self-talk you use to cope with challenges. For example, they may hear you say “I can get through this tough day at work” when stressed. Point out how affirming self-talk improves your mood. Children are influenced by the narratives playing in their parents’ heads.

Teach Them Soothing Strategies

When children get extremely upset, they may not yet have the skills to self-regulate their emotions. Teach them positive ways to soothe themselves when they’re sad, angry or anxious. Strategies like taking deep breaths, counting to ten, doing yoga poses, squeezing a stress ball, or listening to calming music can help diffuse difficult feelings.

Have them practise these when they’re already in a good mood. Then they will know what to do next time intense emotions arise. Validate that all their feelings are okay but emphasise that coping skills can help them manage those feelings constructively.

Promote Positive Self-Talk

Children’s inner monologue impacts their emotional state and self-esteem. Negative self-talk like “I’m foolish” or “Nobody likes me” exacerbates feelings of sadness, anger or anxiety. Help kids cultivate more positive self-talk and affirming mantras, especially in challenging situations.

For instance, they can say “I’m doing my best” before a test or “I can get through this” when facing a difficulty. Doing regular exercises where your child identifies their positive qualities can also build their self-confidence from within.

Build Emotional Vocabulary

Just as reading expands a child’s vocabulary, labelling emotions expands their emotional vocabulary. Using varied feeling words beyond just happy, sad, and angry enables kids to express themselves with more nuance. Children’s books, TV shows and games that name different emotions are great teaching aids.

You can also point out the emotional state of characters in stories and ask your child how they think the character is feeling. Slowly build up your child’s emotional vocabulary with words like excited, frustrated, disappointed, jealous, lonely etc. A rich emotional vocabulary strengthens self-awareness.

Cultivate Empathy and Kindness

Empathy allows kids to understand and share the feelings of others, which is core to emotional intelligence. Children are not born empathetic; they need guidance to develop this quality. There are plenty of everyday opportunities to nurture empathy and kindness in your child.

Promote Perspective-Taking

Help your child imagine how others might think and feel in a given situation. If your child upsets their friend, ask “How do you think he felt when you said that?” If they see a classmate struggling, ask “What do you think she needs right now and how can you help?”

Use TV shows or books to discuss character perspectives too. The more kids practise perspective-taking, the better they will become at sensing how their behaviour impacts people.

Call Out Acts of Kindness

Reinforce kindness and compassion when you spot it. If your child shares their toy with a friend, comforts someone who is sad, or helps you without being asked, point it out and praise them. Say exactly what they did that was kind and how it likely made the other person feel.

This motivates them to keep behaving caringly. You can even have a “kindness jar” where family members write down acts of kindness they witnessed. Read them out frequently to celebrate empathetic behaviour.

Volunteer Together

Performing acts of service cultivates empathy, as children see firsthand how their actions can help others in need. Look for family volunteer opportunities at soup kitchens, animal shelters, environmental cleanups or organised charity events.

If you have the capacity, you could also foster or adopt children in need. Involving your own children teaches them compassion and acceptance for all people, regardless of age, background or ability. Speak to an agency if you want more information on fostering in Southampton.

Embrace Diversity

Expose your child to people from diverse walks of life through the media, books, toys, and your own social circle. Teach them that everyone deserves respect and kindness, despite outward differences. If they ever make intolerant comments, use it as a teachable moment about why all kinds of people have value.

Promote inclusion and avoid stereotyping based on gender, race, culture, disability or socioeconomic status. Children raised with acceptance are more likely to become socially conscious and egalitarian adults.

Addressing Bullying and Disrespect

While nurturing empathy and ethics, don’t assume kids will never falter. Childhood bullying and disrespect can emerge due to peer influence, insecurity, or underdeveloped empathy skills. Take these hurtful behaviours seriously and correct them patiently.

First, affirm that cruelty and discrimination are never acceptable no matter the intention. However, avoid shaming or harshly judging them as that breeds defensiveness. Instead, help them reflect on how their actions harmed others and damaged relationships.

Ask “If someone said/did that to you, how would you feel?” to evoke empathy. Then brainstorm ways they can rectify the situation, like apologising or making amends. Ongoing modelling, guidance and compassionate discipline helps children become more considerate individuals.

How To Raise Emotionally Intelligent Kids

Developing emotional intelligence builds the foundation for a fulfilling life of sound mental health, meaningful relationships and ethical behaviour. While genetics play a role, parents can substantially shape a child’s emotional intelligence through their modelling, teaching and nurturing.

Focus on building your child’s self-awareness, coping strategies, empathy and kindness. Be patient – emotional skills take time to instil, but the effort is well worth it. With your guidance, your child will be equipped to understand, express and manage their emotions in a healthy, productive manner as they grow.

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Kinging Queen

Jennifer Pompaski
Jennifer Pompaski

Hi, my name is Jennifer. I am an Engineer by day and a blogger 24/7. I am passionate about Self Improvement & Productivity and this blog is dedicated to that passion! I hope you find it worthwhile each time you visit! If you do find anything helpful on here, kindly share because sharing is caring!

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