When it comes to parenting, raising an emotionally intelligent child isn’t always top of the agenda.
However, as parents, teaching kids about emotional intelligence can be hugely beneficial. In addition to making a significant difference to a child’s development, wellbeing, resilience and ability to form relationships as well as teaching them how to be able to succeed in the workplace in the future.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand the way you and others feel and react, express your emotions in an appropriate way, and use this skill to make good judgments and to avoid or solve problems. Emotional intelligence also enables you to handle interpersonal relationships and to respond to others with empathy and understanding as well as manage your own emotions with rational and resilience.
The term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and its importance is increasingly being discussed and referred to in literature and within the workplace. The Harvard Business Review (which discredits IQ as the sole measure of one’s abilities) referred to emotional intelligence as “a revolutionary, paradigm-shattering idea”.
Furthermore, Psychologist and New York Times bestselling author, Daniel Goleman, wrote in his paper; Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence that ‘CEOs are hired for their intellect and business expertise and fired for lack of emotional intelligence.’
The benefits of being emotionally intelligent
There is a growing body of research showing that individuals (from interns to directors) displaying higher levels of emotional intelligence are better equipped to work collaboratively within teams, deal with change more effectively, and manage stress –enabling them to be more productive. It is evident that emotional intelligence is valuable, if not vital in order to succeed in life – therefore how can we support our children in developing their emotional intelligence?
According to Unicef, emotional intelligence ‘can be cultivated from an early age and developed throughout life.’ Moreover, they state that emotionally intelligent children become balanced adults, who in turn can react to complicated situations in a rational and calm manner. At RoleModels, we are passionate about providing children with opportunities to develop these fundamental skills, enabling them to reach their potential in all areas.
How to support your child in developing emotional intelligence
In the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association’s publication Emotional Intelligence in Children, they identify that ‘learning how to teach emotional intelligence in children is quite vital as many adults struggle with it because it was not built from a young age’.
More often than not, the academic curriculum alone does not provide children with all of the necessary skills they need nor provide them with the opportunities to develop these skills.
Emotional intelligence is a teachable skill, so, therefore, why not give our children all the tools necessary to truly thrive?
5 key ways in which you can support your child in developing emotional intelligence
Support your child’s awareness of emotions by labelling them in a way that your child can understand.
For example: “I can see you are feeling sad because you are crying…”
Children can often confuse some feelings for others.
Giving the feelings a name and identifying situations that elicit those feelings is a significant step towards becoming emotionally intelligent. Identifying emotions also enables children to develop a greater self-knowledge and self-control.
When they understand their feelings and emotions, they are better able to not only manage them but communicate them with others.
2. Allow children to express their emotions
Allowing your child to express their emotions is vital. They need to practice experiencing and tolerating emotions. Louise Treherne, Director of Character Education here at RoleModels has written a blog about ways to get your child to open up, with some helpful guidance on creating a safe space
3. Validate emotions
Listen and respond to your child’s feelings and emotions. Show empathy and don’t shy away from addressing uncomfortable feelings. You do not always need to have a solution to your child’s problems – sometimes being a safe space for them to express themselves is enough. Being empathetic is a sign of emotional intelligence and modelling it to your child is a fantastic opportunity for them to learn. As parents, it can be painful to see our children experience difficult emotions.
How we support them with processing these emotions is fundamental to how they interpret and manage their feelings and the feelings of others.
4. Model appropriate ways to express emotions
Children are like sponges, constantly observing and absorbing what they see. Modelling how you experience and express a range of emotions provides your child with a blueprint of how to do the same. We tend to want to shield our children from seeing us sad or anxious, however showing children that they are natural emotions and that although they are unpleasant, you are able to tolerate them, will enable them to process these emotions too.
5. Help your child problem solve
Some emotions are not necessary to act on, simply identifying them and tolerating them is all that is necessary. However, there are times when emotions are responses to a situation that can be addressed.
Support your child in problem-solving and being proactive, where appropriate, in addressing their difficulty. At RoleModels, we have identified ‘creative problem solving’ as one of our main key skills that we support children with. We run courses in Creative Problem Solving, providing children with the skills and confidence to problem solve and be proactive in addressing their difficulties.
Developing emotional intelligence is one of the key areas in which RoleModels supports children. We complement traditional academic education by focussing on life skills that promote social and emotional wellbeing and dynamic thinking, helping young people to thrive in life; both at home and in their future workplace. e focus on life skills that promote social & emotional wellbeing and dynamic thinking, helping young people to thrive in life; both at home and in their future workplace.
We believe that such an important skill needs to be taught directly, providing children with the tools they need to fully develop their emotional intelligence.
We are passionate about providing children with opportunities to develop these fundamental skills, enabling them to reach their potential in all areas. If you need any help and support with your child’s mental development, please get in touch with us via our bloss expert page here