Children’s brains grow at a rapid rate. Kids are constantly reacting, adapting, and developing ideas based on their experiences. While it’s natural for parents to want their children to be smart — as measured by IQ or intelligence quotient — there is more to learning than math or reasoning. Your child’s EQ, or emotional quotient, is also an important aspect of your child’s development. With children spending more time in front of computer screens and smartphones, there is a greater need, now more than ever, to develop emotional intelligence, from an early age.
Alongside equipping children with knowledge of facts, figures, and theories, there must also be an element of social and emotional learning in their growth process. This can be developed at school, with teachers and friends, or at home, with you.
When we teach our kids emotional intelligence, they learn how to recognize their feelings, understand where they come from and discover how to deal with them. Developing your child’s emotional intelligence is also teaching them essential skills for their future success in life.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence empowers children for the challenges of an increasingly complex world. When we nurture the emotional development of our children, they learn how to deal with their feelings in a healthy way, positively resolve conflicts, and make responsible decisions.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman defines emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) as a combination of five things:
- Self-awareness: Recognising one’s own emotions
- Self-regulation: Being able to regulate and control how we react to our emotions
- Internal motivation: Having a sense of what’s important in life, and using it to set and attain goals
- Empathy: Understanding the emotions of others
- Social skills: Being able to build interactions appropriately with others under various circumstances
How Do I Develop My Child’s Emotional Intelligence?
The good news is that all five components of emotional intelligence mentioned above can be taught and learned at any age.
If a child receives very little emotional support at home, he may become vulnerable to peer pressure, worry, and anxiety. A child may deal with their anxiety and fear by hiding it under a facade of toughness. This could lead to their turning into a bully, or becoming an under-achiever who suffers from low motivation.
Here are a few things we can do to help nurture our children’s EQ:
- Help your child identify their emotions. Do not judge or criticise your child’s emotions. Also, do not treat them as trivial. Help them to understand what they are feeling and why.
- Make it a habit to recognise and name emotions as they arise, from young. For example, when your child is feeling upset or discouraged, ask them to describe what they are feeling or get them to write it down or draw it. Remember to do the same with good emotions too.
- Walk the talk. Most of the time, even grown-ups have trouble handling emotions, so it can be challenging teaching our kids. No one is perfect, but remember, as parents, it’s our job to teach children to control their emotions. We must constantly strive to manage this feat ourselves, and keep a lid on our temper.
- Teach empathy. Emotional intelligence starts with being empathetic to your own child. Observe what’s happening in your child’s life, and show enthusiasm in their interests. Celebrate their little triumphs, share their sorrows.
It is crucial to keep your focus on your child when having discussions with them. So avoid engaging in quality conversations when you are doing something else or multitasking. Reading together, on the other hand, is a great time for both parent and child to focus. Take the opportunity to discuss how the characters of the story were feeling emotionally.
Little ones who feel that they are listened to and valued, are more likely to show compassion, respect and empathy for others. Here are a few more concrete things you can do to develop your child’s emotional intelligence:
- Meet your child’s emotional needs: Strive to develop a strong, secure attachment with your child. Your child needs to know that no matter how hard things get, you will be there for them. Guiding them through difficult moments will deepen trust and help them feel secure.
- Teach problem solving: Show your child that every problem has a solution if dealt with patience. Focus on the positive, and think about ways that negative situations might be improved. Treat failures as an opportunity to do better next time. Teach children to learn from the past, and to keep moving towards the future.
- Give them proper nutrition: You may not immediately realize how your child’s diet affects their EQ, but nutrition plays a crucial part in your child’s brain development. And this role of nutrition is central to the regulation of their emotions.
As a parent, you know that you are your child’s first teacher, and you are also in charge of giving them proper nutrition. These two are intertwined, as nutrition affects children’s brain development. Thanks to a nutrition breakthrough that’s clinically proven to help give your child an IQ and EQ advantage, your child can reap the benefits of emotional intelligence.
Children who develop high EQ are more likely to cultivate positive relationships, communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, overcome difficult situations and manage stress. As these children enter adulthood, their sharpened emotional quotient can help them be happier and healthier in their careers and relationships.
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Goleman, D. (2010). Emotional intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ. London: Bloomsbury.