Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has been all the buzz for some time now. It has been deemed just as important, or more so, than intelligence or IQ. But what is Emotional Intelligence? It is well-defined in the following sentence:
Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and with empathy.
Just as some are more naturally inclined, and even gifted, in intellect, the same goes for EQ. If one were gifted in intellect, that does not mean they have nothing to learn or obtain new intellectually. It may come easier for them. If you compare this concept to EQ, I think you will understand why behavior related to our emotions and getting along well with others come easier for one person than the next. What came first? The chicken or the egg? Did the ones who have more EQ grow up in a home which encouraged and built up these concepts? Or were they born with the natural inclination in their character? I would say most likely a combination of both. A home which encourages the following 5 actions and behaviors gives a child every advantage of developing EQ and therefore, many advantages in life itself. Here are 5 ways you can help your child build their EQ:
- Name that emotion. Teach children to name the emotion they are feeling and develop their feeling word vocabulary. This leads to self-awareness as an adult. If they are calling the feeling of being jealous “sad” or “hurt” this can cause difficulties processing the emotions and growing in that area.
- Teach empathy. When situations involving circumstances for other people arise and when in conflict with others, whether it is a peer or a teacher or coach, discuss what it may be like to be in that person’s position. This discussion done day in and day out will develop a valuable character trait of being empathetic in your child.
- Take ownership. Demonstrating taking ownership of your part in any problem is vital to your child being able to do the same. If you always blame the other child or the teacher, how is your child able to learn from his or her mistakes? Teaching your child what they have control over (their own attitude, thoughts, actions, time), and what they do not, will help in building ownership.
- Model the pause. Pausing before responding and reacting to news and information. You are also modeling regulating your emotions. Think “inside it is chaos, but outside, I am cool as a cucumber”. Often, children need more help with this skill. They may need a pause in the form of a rest break or a retreat to a quiet spot in the home to get a hold of their intense emotions. When they come out of that pause, help them share about their emotions or process what happened.
- Incorporate rest and relaxation into your day and schedule. Children who can not relax and unwind will have difficulty regulating their emotions as well. We need to recharge our bodies and quiet our minds enough to listen to them. It is emotionally unhealthy to keep running literally or figuratively.