Supporting Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence: 5 Practical Tips for Parents

Supporting Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence: 5 Practical Tips for Parents

Emotional intelligence is the capability to understand and manage emotions in positive ways to communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome daily challenges and resolve conflicts. Without emotional intelligence, children might struggle to understand their own feelings and others.

For example, during disagreements, they might react impulsively without considering the impact of their words or actions on others, leading to unnecessary hostile conflicts. They might also find it hard to express their emotions effectively, resulting in misunderstandings and frustration in their relationships with peers and adults.

Discover five simple, practical ways to support your child’s emotional development, ultimately nurturing them to become thoughtful, empathetic individuals who are skilled at building and maintaining healthy relationships.

1. Encourage Emotional Expression

Show your child how to express emotions in a healthy way by demonstrating it yourself. For example: if your child refuses to share their negative feelings and sulk to deal with frustration, encourage them to talk by saying, “I can see that you’re upset. Whenever you’re ready, I’m here to listen.” You could also say, “Sometimes, when I feel sad, I like to talk to someone I trust about it.”

You can also offer alternatives for expressing emotions, by using colour-coded drawings — “Draw a red circle if you feel angry, an orange circle if you feel sad, or a blue circle if you feel exhausted.”, to help them communicate without feeling pressured to speak. 

2. Teach Emotional Regulation Strategies

Let’s say your child becomes frustrated while working on a challenging puzzle, parents can calmly guide them through deep breathing exercises or counting to ten to manage their frustration. Tell them, “I can see that you’re feeling frustrated right now. That’s okay. Let’s slowly count to ten together then try to tackle the puzzle again.” 

Another example: imagine your child is feeling anxious and acting fidgety about an upcoming exam at school. Parents can discuss their feelings in a supportive manner. Say, “I understand that you’re feeling nervous about the exam. It’s natural to feel that way. Let’s come up with a plan to help you feel more confident.” Teach your child to cope by creating a study schedule and breaking the study material into smaller chunks. 

By walking through the process together while offering reassurance and encouragement, parents help their child learn to regulate their emotions and cope effectively with stressors, promoting emotional intelligence in the process.

3. Cultivate Empathy and Perspective

When a child is unwilling to share toys with other children, parents can gently intervene and help the child understand the importance of empathy. You can tell your child, “I see that you really enjoy playing with your toys, but it’s important to share with others too. How would you feel if you wanted to play with a toy, but someone wouldn’t share it with you?” Then, you can guide the child to take turns or find a compromise that allows everyone to enjoy the toys together, fostering empathy and cooperation.

Another example: if your child encounters someone who is upset, such as a friend who fell down and hurt themselves, you can model empathy by demonstrating how to comfort them. Say, “It looks like your friend is feeling sad because they fell down. Let’s go see if they’re okay and offer some kind words or a hug to help them feel better.” 

By encouraging your child to share toys and comfort an upset person, parents provide opportunities for the child to practice empathy and perspective-taking.

4. Support Problem-Solving Skills

Help your child to find solutions to common problems that might happen when playing with friends. If your child has had an argument with a friend, you can encourage them to resolve the conflict constructively.

Ask questions like, “How do you think your friend feels right now?” and “What made you upset during the argument?” Listen to your children and validate their feelings. Then, guide them to look for solutions together. Support them to learn compromises and apologies. For example, taking turns choosing an activity or apologising for any hurtful words.

5. Create Positive Relationships and Connections

Let’s say your child feels excluded by their peers during recess and comes home feeling lonely and upset. You might say, “I’m sorry you felt left out today. It’s tough when you’re not included in activities with your friends.”

Next, encourage your child to reflect on the situation and how to address the problem. Ask questions like, “Do you have any ideas for how you could join in with your friends next time?” and “Is there any friend you feel comfortable talking to about how you’re feeling?”

Guide your child to reach out and connect closer to their peers. For example, suggest they ask a friend they are close to, if they can join in a game or activity during recess period. Role-play different scenarios with them to practice assertive communication skills.

Supporting your child’s emotional intelligence is a marathon, not a sprint. It begins soon after they are born and continues as they grow and develop. At Mulberry Learning, we help your child cultivate emotional intelligence.

It will require patience and understanding along with consistent effort. By teaching emotion expression and regulation, empathy and perspective-taking, problem-solving skills, and maintaining positive relationships, you are giving your child the tools they need to confidently and empathetically cope with their emotions.

Building emotional intelligence during your child’s early years sets them up for a lifetime of success and happiness, as it instils resilience, empathy, and healthy relationship skills.

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