Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to express and manage their feelings appropriately while also respecting the feelings of others. It is a set of skills children can develop early on. Emotional intelligence is important because it provides several benefits to help your child live a happy and fulfilling life.
Children will be able to build better relationships as a result of emotional intelligence, and they will also be more successful during adulthood. Those with higher levels of emotional intelligence are also less likely to experience depression and other mental illnesses, and the good news is that every child has the capacity to develop their emotional intelligence.
It is up to an adult to teach them these skills, and the following are ways children can develop emotional intelligence in their early years:
Build a vocabulary to express feelings
Emotional words like angry, shy, upset and painful can help a child express their feelings, so teach them these words so that they can tell you how they are feeling in different situations. It’s important to include positive vocabulary, so teach them to use words like excited, joyful and hopeful, for example. Labelling your child’s emotions will allow them to recognize how they are feeling.
Validate their feelings
Minimizing your child’s emotions may teach them that it is wrong to express their thoughts and feelings—empathy is a far better approach. Try doing this even if you don’t understand why they are upset, so your child sees that you care.
Display appropriate ways to express feelings
Children need to know how to express their emotions in a socially appropriate manner, and the best way to teach these skills is to model them yourself. Using emotional and “feeling” words in your everyday conversations will help your child build emotional intelligence, so be the best possible role model you can be for your child.
Teach them healthy coping skills
Once a child understands their emotions, they need to then learn how to deal with these emotions in a healthy way. They need to know how to cheer themselves up, use calming techniques, and face their fears. These skills can be challenging, but the consistent implementation of specific tactics will provide the tools necessary to cope with any situation. Taking deep breaths or playing soothing music are examples of skills and methods you can teach.
Help them develop problem-solving skills
Learning how to solve problems is a big part of building emotional intelligence. Once feelings have been expressed, the child must work through the process of fixing the problem itself. Help them identify different ways to solve the problem and discuss each one to help them pick the best option. Provide your child with guidance but make them see that they can solve problems peacefully and effectively on their own.
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