Tips for Caregivers to Improve Emotional Intelligence in Children
When we’re young, we often struggle with expressing ourselves and what we’re feeling. This makes it important to raise children with high emotional intelligence. Through social-emotional learning, children can develop skills and build the confidence they need to process how they feel.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is essential for children to grasp at an early age. This form of intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as recognizing and respecting the feelings of others.
There are plenty of reasons to encourage children to build their emotional intelligence while they’re young. High levels of EI are often associated with increased comprehension and performance in school. Emotional intelligence is also connected to success later in life. A stronger understanding of feelings helps children cooperate, share, and empathize better. It can also lead to improved mental health as children have a greater ability to process what they’re feeling.
Children can also self-regulate their emotions. For example, they are more capable of handling emotions like anger and remaining calm in stressful situations. The benefits of emotional intelligence make learning the skills crucial to having productive relationships and a healthy life. Use these tips to raise EI throughout your child’s development.
1. Identify emotions
Processing emotions begins first with understanding what they are. It’s important that children learn to recognize and relate to their feelings – this can start with simple words like anger, joy, and excitement. An emotional vocabulary makes it easier for children to comprehend their experiences.
Caregivers can develop awareness in children by asking questions. Phrases like “How are you feeling?” and “Are you scared?” or “Are you angry?” assist children in confirming their emotions and responses. This allows them to be sensitive to their reactions, building a strong emotional foundation.
Tip: Use this free book in our BookSmart app to help pre-primary children name their emotions.
2. Encourage empathy and expression
Once a child is able to identify emotions, they need to express them in a healthy way. Validating their feelings as opposed to dismissing them is crucial to healthy development. When teaching children empathy, make sure it is given to them as well.
Learning this way makes children feel heard and improves constructive behavior. Children who reflect on their feelings, especially when supported by an adult, increase their emotional intelligence through recognition and compassion.
3. Teach coping skills and compassion
Children need to learn how to address their emotions after they understand what they’re feeling. Healthy coping mechanisms are critical tools for adolescent development. When children can face their fears, calm themselves down, and lift themselves up, they can better handle tough situations.
Good coping skills include taking deep breaths, pausing before responding, exercising, active listening, and artistic activities. These tools give children a way to acknowledge their feelings and regulate them.
4. Help them work through it
A part of coping with their emotions is teaching children how to problem-solve. Recognizing emotions and brainstorming ways to handle issues prepares children for dealing with relationships and life. Using phrases like “Tell me more about it” and “How could we work through this?” can help children process and resolve difficult situations.
Emotional intelligence is developed along with problem-solving skills. Being aware of how they feel and how others feel helps them understand situations better and make informed choices.
5. Give examples of how to express feelings
Providing healthy models of ways for children to express their emotions raises their EI. Caregivers can set these guidelines by being examples themselves. Another great method is to have children read stories. Books have many benefits like introducing young readers to new perspectives, ideas, and feelings. They also help build empathy as they learn about how other people feel.
Free digital books on our BookSmart app can help caregivers find accessible and inspiring stories. The app includes activities and exercises that are specifically designed to improve EI, as well. Making books and emotional intelligence a fundamental part of children’s development starts them feeling calm and confident early on.