12 Jun
  • By Laura Neill
  • Cause in

Emotional Intelligence – why it matters, and is your child there?

Image: Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a person’s ability to be aware of, express and control their emotions. Emotional intelligence helps us to communicate with others, form meaningful relationships, negotiate tough emotional problems and develop clear and logical thought patterns.

According to Daniel Goleman, American EQ expert and psychologist, Emotional Intelligence is even more important than IQ. Fostering emotional intelligence in your child will set them up with the skills to read social situations fluently, communicate with compassion and empathy, negotiate difficult situations and one day, maybe they’ll even earn more money.

The good news is, emotional intelligence isn’t just an instinct or a talent, it’s something that can be encouraged, taught and developed from a very young age. In this article, we’ll break down the five forms of emotional intelligence and reveal some simple ways you can reinforce these valuable skills in your child.

  1.    Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is all about being able to recognize our own emotions. If your child is there, he or she can identify what emotion they feel in a variety of circumstances.

How can my child get there? According to Donna Volpitta (Ed. D.), it’s all in the conversation. Boost your child’s ‘emotional vocabulary’ by asking them to reflect on how they feel in both positive and negative circumstances. The key with these conversations is to get specific – ask your child to name the emotion and explain why he or she feels it. This will give them a good word-bank to be able to communicate their feelings for the rest of their lives.

  1.    Self-Regulation

In difficult situations, the ability to control reactions is a critical life skill. This is a tough skill for a child to learn – it takes a great deal of maturity and practice to disconnect from emotions long enough to decide how to react.

How can my child get there? Many negative feelings, such as anger or sadness, lose strength once they are heard and understood. Listen to your child, acknowledge their feelings and show empathy. When the emotion has lost its steam, encourage your child to brainstorm solutions to the problem. Encourage her to consider the outcomes – would ignoring or getting mad at her school friend have the same outcome as confronting? With your help, your child will develop the skills to place their emotions to the side and make logical decisions in difficult or stressful situations.

  1.    Self-motivation

Ever had a day when you’ve just wanted to pull the covers over your head and forget the world?  Self-motivation is the discipline and will to achieve goals in life, even in the most difficult of times. Encouraging motivation in your child is a true gift. It instils them with bravery, and gives them the tools to achieve a life full of peak experiences.

How can my child get there? According to the Child Development Institute, attitude is everything. Encourage a positive attitude by rewarding your child for effort – regardless of results. As well as celebrating your child’s achievements, making them aware of how to deal with and move on from failure will also give them the tools needed to bravely take on the greatest of challenges.

  1.    Empathy

The ability to understand, sense and feel what others are going through is a critical skill in all areas of life. If your child can put themselves in the shoes of another person, they will make good friends, partners, even managers and leaders.

How can my child get there? Fostering empathy in your child is about helping them to identify and ‘read’ the emotions of other people. When reading to your child, ask them to identify how the characters might be feeling. Volpitta also suggests the same thing can be done when watching television, through muting the sound and asking your child to study the body language and facial expressions of the characters. Rewarding your child for kindness also encourages a pattern of generosity in their actions and thinking.

  1.    Social Skills

Social skills are all about effective communication, active listening and conflict resolution. Sure, it all sounds business-like, but in a child’s world this is as simple as making and maintaining friends. A strong set of social skills will also make your child an assertive and open communicator who won’t be fair game for bullies.

How can my child get there? Encouraging your child’s friendships and modelling good social behaviour is the best way to instil good social habits. Treat your child’s friends with importance, remember their names and create plenty of opportunities for play. Teaching your child basic conflict management skills will allow her the ability to maintain the friends she’s made. Broadening your child’s social experiences by experimenting with different clubs and programs is a great way to promote social confidence as well as self-esteem.

At House to Grow, we believe that children from all circumstances deserve to develop their emotional intelligence and self-confidence, and live their best life. That’s why we run Colouring Dreams, an eight-week art therapy program that aims to help children connect with their dreams express their emotions and discover their talents through art and music therapy.

If you would like to support us in our mission, you might like to participate in our Colouring Dreams Walk.

For more information about Colouring Dreams, please click here.

This is Lukas connecting to his feelings at our Colouring Dreams program! 

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