In a previous post, we discussed how important it is to teach your kids healthy habits from an early age. One of those habits was about kids expressing their emotions and teaching them emotional intelligence at a young age. If that struck you as a habit you’d like to pass onto your kids, take a look at these different tips for teaching your children about emotional intelligence. Hopefully, by following these steps, you’ll help your child foster healthy relationships with others—and with themselves!
It’s important that your kids recognize just how vital self-expression is. Bottling up emotions and difficult memories does not make a person stronger; the sooner you help your children express themselves and their emotions, the better. This means that if your toddler is angry, let them be angry—but then teach them ways to solve their problems. Do your best to teach them that experiencing a range of feelings is understandable, even though some actions (such as throwing fits) must be limited.
So, if you want to teach your children problem-solving, there are a few different things you need to do. First, help them understand that emotions are messages about what the body needs, not places to wallow. Second, help them learn to breathe through the tough emotions, feel and tolerate them, and then focus on problem-solving.
Not every high emotion necessarily needs to end with problem-solving, but the emotions that do end this way need to be addressed. For example, if you notice Amy is upset because her friend couldn’t come over to play and Amy really wanted to play, help her figure out other ways to have fun. The more you teach problem-solving, the easier it will be for them to solve their own issues later on.
Urge Emotion Excavations
What exactly are emotion excavations? These are basically digging down and getting to the root, or core, emotion. Often, people and children lash out or show anger, when deep down they’re actually hurt or sad. Helping your child label his or her own emotions will help them pinpoint where these strong feelings are coming from later on. You can help them with these excavations either by leading by example or tying back to old situations they’ve experienced.
Lead by Example
Leading by example is tough for many adults, but it’s imperative if you want your child to have a healthy emotional intelligence level. This means that you figure out healthy ways to cope with and communicate anger and other strong emotions. When you do this, you show your child what it’s like to be in touch with your emotions. If you don’t handle something well, you can use that as a teaching moment. Your kids will appreciate the honesty, and they will likely be more emotionally intelligent going forward if you are upfront.
Develop Healthy Coping Skills
Once your kids have expressed themselves and dug into their core emotion, you have to help them learn how to cope with these feelings. Emotions are a difficult thing to process even as an adult, so as a child, these heightened emotions are difficult to understand. Do your best to teach specific skills, like deep breathing techniques, coloring, counting down from 100, writing, or listening to music. These are all different ways to cope with strong emotions.
Practice Different Scenarios
Help your kids before these difficult emotions even come up and practice different scenarios with them. Especially when you notice negative patterns developing, do your best to catch them and practice how to handle those specific situations. These practice scenarios can be the thing that your children turn to when they’re not sure how to handle a specific feeling or emotion.
Emotional intelligence is a hard thing to understand for kids, so do your best to create an environment that thrives on openness and vulnerability. The more comfortable they feel, the more comfortable they’ll feel about opening up and digging into difficult emotions. Best of luck!