nurturing EQ


Children’s brains grow at a rapid rate. They are constantly reacting, adapting, and developing ideas based on their experiences

So alongside equipping them with the knowledge of facts, figures, and theories, there must also be an element of social and emotional learning in their growth process, be it at school, with their teachers and friends, or at home with close relatives.

When we teach our kids emotional intelligence, which means how to recognizse their feelings, understand where they come from and learn how to deal with them, we are teaching them essential skills for their success in life.

The fact that children today are spending more time in front of computer screens and smartphones, chatting with friends (and even strangers) on social networks, creates an even greater need, now more than ever, to develop emotional intelligence, from an early age.

How to help my child develop their emotional intelligence

When we nurture the emotional development of our children, they learn how to deal with their feelings in a healthy way, how to positively resolve conflicts, and make responsible decisions. These will in turn empower them for the challenges of an increasingly complex world.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman lists Emotional Intelligence (EI) or Emotional Quotient (EQ) as a combination of:

Dr. Gottman advises the following tips to parents for emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-awareness: Recognising one’s own emotions.

  2. Self-regulation: Being able to regulate and control how we react to our emotions.

  3. Internal motivation: Having a sense of what’s important in life, and using it to set and attain goals.

  4. Empathy: Understanding the emotions of others.

  5. Social skills: Being able to build interact appropriately with others under various circumstances.

The good news is that all five components of emotional intelligence 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 his anxiety and fear by hiding it under a facade of toughness. This could possibly lead to his turning into a bully, or becoming an under-achiever who suffers from low motivation.

Here is what we can do to help nurture our children’s EQ:

  • Help your child identify his emotions: Do not judge or criticise your child’s emotions as trivial. Help him to understand what he is feeling and why. Make it a habit to recognise and name emotions as they arise, from young. For example, when they are 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 it with the good emotions too.

  • Walk the talk: Most of the time, even grown-ups have trouble handling emotions ourselves, let alone teach our kids. No one is perfect, but remember, as parents, it’s our job to teach kids to control their emotions. We must constantly strive to manage this feat ourselves, and keep a lid on our temper.

  • Teach empathy: It starts with being empathetic to your own child. Observe and take note of what’s happening in your child’s life, show enthusiasm in their interests. Celebrate their little triumphs, share their sorrows.

It is crucial to be present and keep your focus on your child, when having discussions. So don’t try to engage in quality conversations when grocery shopping for example. Reading, on the other hand, is a great way for both the parent and child to focus. It is also a good way 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.