Emotional intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ), is a person’s ability to identify, evaluate, control, and express their emotions. Why is raising an emotionally intelligent child so important?  Because building EQ now can set your child up to communicate more effectively, negotiate better, develop stronger relationships and (potentially) earn more money later on in life. Kids with strong EQ tend to grow into more compassionate, self-aware adults. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we want for our children?

Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child

Can EQ By Taught?

You may be asking yourself, is EQ even something that can be taught? We are happy to report that the answer is yes! With a little nurturing and support from caregivers, raising an emotionally intelligent child is totally possible. All kids can grow their emotional intelligence, no matter if they are naturally attuned to their EQ or not. This is an area where parents really play a vital role. The school system tends to focus on IQ, which leaves the responsibility for teaching EQ squarely on the shoulders of mom and dad.  

Wondering where to start? We were too. So we did the research and put together some actionable steps to help parents raise children with a high EQ. Get ready for all the feels, as we work with our kids to help them identify and manage their emotions.

EQ Foundation – Infants:

Your child’s EQ starts early, and it begins with their relationship to you. Here are two things you as a parent can do to help build a solid EQ foundation…. Right from the start.

Hold Your Baby

Your baby’s interactions with you and the other caregivers in his/her life are where EQ begins. Raising an emotionally intelligent child starts in infancy. This is the time when your child begins to develop feelings of security, emotional bonding, and trust… the cornerstones of EQ.

You can support this development by holding your baby when they want to be held and responding timely to their cries. You won’t spoil them, we promise, and it makes a big difference. Being indifferent to a baby’s cries can bring on feelings of anxiety and abandonment, both of which interfere with EQ development later on.

Soothe Yourself, Soothe Your Baby

What do we mean by this? Research has shown that infants can pick up anxiety from their parents. Your voice, movements, etc., can be soothing or anxiety provoking to your child, so be aware of what energy you’re giving off in their presence. If you want to be raising an emotionally intelligent child, be a calm soothing presence in their life.

Also, infants first learn to soothe themselves by having the experience of other people soothing them. Rocking , holding and feeding your baby teaches them that emotional needs can be managed. This helps their nervous system lay the groundwork to be able to calm themselves when they get older.

Modeling EQ For Your Kids:

Kids learn how to manage their emotions by watching the people around them, mainly you. If you want your kids to identify and express their feelings in a healthy way, then you need to model that behavior. Raising an emotionally intelligent child means being an emotionally intelligent parent. Demonstrate it!  Here are a few ways you can do just that.

Talk About Your Feelings

Tell your kids how you are feeling so they can practice perceiving your emotional state. This is one of the building blocks of empathy. Do this with a wide range of feelings, from happiness, to sadness, to anger. Also try putting your feelings in context to help them understand triggers such as; “I’m nervous because I am giving a presentation at work today”, or “I’m happy because we are going on vacation next week”.

Part of raising an emotionally intelligent child is showing them the cause and effect of feelings. Letting your kids see into your emotional life helps normalize feelings for them. It also gives them a basic emotional language they can use to communicate their own feelings.

Model EQ

Your kids will copy what you do. So think about how you manage your own emotions…. Do you yell when you’re under stress? Show empathy when other people are hurting? Do you behave the way you want your child to behave? If not, now’s the time to start walking the talk.

You also want to show your kids that it’s okay to bring up difficult topics so they understand that talking through challenging emotions helps. If a loved one passes away, talk about sadness and grief. If you are scared because of an upcoming job interview, talk about your anxiety.

Kids have big emotions too! If they see you sharing feelings that cause you discomfort, they will be less afraid to bring up their own. In this way you’re encouraging them to talk about the “hard” issues where they could use the most guidance and support. You’re showing them that you don’t disapprove of fear, or anger, or sadness…which makes it less likely your child will try to repress those feelings. A big part of raising an emotionally intelligent child is creating a safe space for them to share their emotions.

 

how to be raising an emotionally intelligent child
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Teaching EQ To Your Kids:

Identify The Emotion

Help your child learn to identify and “name” how they are feeling. This is the first step towards taking ownership of their emotions. Ask them to describe how they feel and why they think they are feeling this way. You can also try and get them to see how their emotions affect other people around them (like what happens to their classmates when they get mad and start yelling).

Emoji feeling charts are a great tool to use when trying to help a child identify their feelings. They can see which face best corresponds to their current internal state and use that as a launching point to name the emotion they’re experiencing. Raising an emotionally intelligent child means teaching them a language to express their feelings.

Listen Up

When your child is trying to express how they’re feeling, really tune in and practice active listening. Sometimes raising an emotionally intelligent child means letting your kid feel heard! 

Accepting your child’s feelings and repeating back what you hear doesn’t necessarily mean you endorse the feelings, it just means you are present and supportive. By saying things like “you seem mad at your teacher, tell me about what happened at school today”, you’re creating a safe space for your child to process those feelings. 

Acknowledge, Accept, and Empathize

Once your child has identified how they are feeling, acknowledge it. Call it by name. Accept that it is happening, whether you agree with it or not. Teach your child that feelings will always happen. We can’t always choose what those feelings are going to be, but we can choose what we do about them.

Empathize with your little one. Let them know you can see it from their perspective (even if you don’t agree).  “I see that you’re mad I can’t come to your game tomorrow”. Your empathy lets your child know it’s okay to have feelings, that it isn’t something to be ashamed or afraid of. This puts you on the path to raising an emotionally intelligent child. Now they can take ownership, which then enables them to resolve the feelings and move on.  

Help Problem Solve

Once your child’s feelings are identified and accepted, they’re ready for phase two…problem solving. Older kids may be able to do this themselves (so don’t be a helicopter parent and rush in if you don’t need to), but younger kids might need your help coming up with a solution to whatever is upsetting them. You can gently guide them towards a way to work it out. “I know John is your friend and it hurts that he didn’t want to play with you today, maybe there is something we can say to him so he knows how you feel?”  

Raising an emotionally intelligent child can lead to more connected relationships now and in the future. All children experience big and messy emotions on a daily basis. Kids sometimes feel powerless or scared in the face of such strong feelings. It’s important for us as parents to be there to support them. To create a safe space for them to explore uncomfortable feelings. In this way, children grow into self-aware adults capable of processing their emotions in a mature and healthy way.

What are your thoughts on raising an emotionally intelligent child? Do you have any techniques that worked well for you?  Share your ideas and comments in our Education Community.