Parents across all cultures intuitively want their children to be successful in life. Supporting children’s emotional development is vital because emotions guide all we do.
Learning to understand and manage emotions is a challenge for both children and adults.
I’m always invigorated with the results I see as I train individuals to become more emotionally intelligent. That’s an individual's ability to recognize, understand and manage their feelings and those of others. Learning how to communicate one's emotions effectively, while interpreting and responding to others is key to success. Developing and strengthening your emotional intelligence is not is easy but it’s possible!
What can parents do to help children become more emotionally intelligent?
Our brains are highly malleable, which allows us to retrain ourselves. Essentially the earlier we educate our children to recognize and harness their emotions the quicker they can develop their social skills and build successful relationships. Emotional Intelligence skills are not part of your child’s school curriculum. It’s true some of these skills are embedded in what they learn, however, it’s not a key part of their core curriculum. This means it’s up to you to instill emotional intelligence into their upbringing; it's a learned skill.
Build a strong relationship with your child.
The way in which children manage socially is dependent upon their interrelationship with their parents. Parents are strong role models and from the moment a child is born they rely on observing their parents learn about the world around them. Without a doubt developing friendships is a big part of family and community life and plays an integral role in a child’s overall development and success.
Emotions send us signals that we need to pay attention to.
Keep in mind that our emotions are there to assist us in understanding something important. Judging them prevents us from understanding them. It generates more emotions and reduces the possibility of understanding the initial feeling and working through it. If we as adults struggle with this consider what young children go through.
Learn how to be an emotional coach.
We have all been an eye witness to a child losing control of their emotions in public and it’s painful for everyone involved! Parents respond to their children’s emotions in a variety of ways but the best way to deal with it to coach your child through the situation without judgment providing support to understand their feelings and problem-solve the matter.
Dr. Gottman recommends the following emotional coaching steps:
- Be aware of your child’s emotions.
- See emotions as an opportunity for connection and teaching.
- Listen and validate the feelings.
- Label their emotions.
- Help your child problem-solve with limits.