What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) is the ability to comprehend, put into action, and deal with your own emotions in ways to relieve anxiousness, to help communicate effectively, empathise with other people, overcome difficult situations/setbacks and disarm conflict. It also means that you can understand the emotional wants and needs of others and know how to respond. In a nutshell – people skills. Emotional Intelligence is integral for success in any area and every stage of life. This is an area that has become increasingly important, as it has a huge impact on the way we live. Studies have shown that emotional intelligence is a powerful predictor of future success, yet teaching these skills have been largely ignored. As adults we have developed, over the course of our lives, long standing habits, which can be hard to break. Therefore early intervention is essential in regards to teaching, coaching and helping children learn about theirs and other peoples’ emotional intelligence. Below are 5 tips to foster emotional intelligence in childhood.
- Be aware of your emotions and lead by example. Being aware of your own emotional intelligence and acknowledging that it underlies self –awareness and largely contributes to parenting styles which is a contributor to successful parenting. Our own emotions can influence our decisions, behaviour and performance – conscious and unconscious. So maintaining success in parenting is also contributed to willingness to take a honest look at yourself and knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Asking friends and feedback about yourself would also assist you in self awareness.
- Be aware of your child’s emotions. Acknowledge all of their emotions and help them to understand their effect of their behaviour and emotions on others. Discuss with them the appropriate time to express emotions and provide opportunities for them to express themselves. Their emotions as ours are, need to be discussed and not looked upon as an ‘annoying part of parenting’ or ‘a waste of time’. A great tool and life-long benefit would be to encourage your child to start a journal and record their thoughts, emotions what they are thankful for etc.
- Listen to your children. Children need our full attention when they are talking about their feelings and as parents, we need to be actively and mindfully present. This is a time for listening more than talking and showing empathy and understanding and discussing possible solutions. In doing this the message you are sending to your child is one of being valued as you listen to their wants and needs and are able to empathise with them. It is also important to set aside time to talk about difficult or hard situations/issues and not just put those conversations in the ‘too hard basket’, which isn’t healthy, as it teaches children to ignore any awkward conversations/ emotions. Where giving them the skills to rationally decide how to handle potentially hard topics will equip them in this area as adults. In the long term this will strengthen and maintain your relationship and a stronger bond will be developed.
- Correctly recognise emotions. Teaching our children to correctly recognise their emotions can assist greatly in their choice of responses. This might involve helping them develop their vocabulary to help them express what they are feeling and helping them to effectively manage their emotions. Otherwise there can be a development of narrowness of thinking, limited perceptions, reactionary behaviour and shrinking back from opportunities.
- Inspire. Your behaviour and attitude as a parent can positively or negatively impact your child’s emotions and their performance in learning. As parents it’s helpful when we consciously speak and act in a way to raise a child’s level of positivity as it increases their intelligence, creativity and energy.
The effects of teaching/ coaching children in emotional intelligence has many positive effects such as; create more rational creative problem solving, being more open to new ideas, more willing to do difficult tasks and develop new solutions which are all life -long skills that can greatly assist in learning and then the workplace.
Tessa’s Books of Elegance specifically aim to encourage spending time with your child/children and friends/family – to create an atmosphere of belonging, acceptance, encouragement, kindness and joy! Important conversations starters like; “How are you?” “What have you been doing?” “What’s been happening?” “How do you feel about….?” can be threaded throughout and centred around relaxed, age appropriate fun activities. Not across a sterile table firing questions like a formal interview. The activities included in my books range from very quick activities to ones that take longer – but all with the same benefit.
Question: What’s the benefit?
Answer: To give our children/friends/family a knowing that they are accepted and what they have to say and how they feel is important and in turn building solid and lasting relationships, building upon empathy and kindness and thus empowering them to recognise theirs and others emotions and in turn assisting them to succeed. I hope you have enjoyed and benefited from reading my 5 tips to foster emotional intelligence in childhood. Of course the topic goes much deeper than this short blog – so I really encourage you to invest the time embarking on further study to foster emotional intelligence within your family today.