Emotional intelligence kids

Helping Your Kids to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence refers to a person’s ability to understand, control and express their emotions while maintaining a good balance of interpersonal relationships. People with a high emotional intelligence know how to react in certain situations, how to express empathy and explore self-actualisation.

What it means to have emotional intelligence:

According to Psychology Today emotional intelligence includes three primary skills:

  • Using emotions effectively, like problem solving and finding solutions.
  • Identifying emotions in order to read situations and relationships.
  • Regulating emotions skillfully to help yourself and others.

Helping your kids to improve their emotional intelligence will do wonders for their future. Let’s look at some ways to develop emotional intelligence:

Core Emotion Identification

A great activity to improve your kid’s emotional intelligence is by sorting their feelings according to this chart. This will not only help them understand the core emotions, but feelings and attitudes that fall under these categories. This way, when they feel a certain feeling, they will be able to identify what is actually going on on a deeper, emotional level.


(Image source: http://imaginationsoup.net/2015/07/emotional-intelligence-activities-kids/)

Introduce them to Empathy

A great way for your kids to learn about the feelings of others is through empathy. This doesn’t mean you have to put them in an uncomfortable position. Mention a circumstance and ask them how they would have felt in this situation, or whether they’ve felt like that before.

For instance, ‘Have you ever been angry at your teacher? How do you think your friend feels when your teacher is yelling at him/her’? The ability to practice empathy will help your child relate to others on a deeper level.

No Right and Wrong Emotions

Many times we tend to tell our kids how they should be feeling in certain situations. For example, ‘That didn’t really hurt’ or ‘You are a big boy now, don’t cry’.  It’s not our place to curate their emotions and feelings. Teach them that there isn’t something like a right or wrong emotions – it’s just about interpreting these emotions and knowing how to utilize them.

Talk to your kids about your own emotions and how you try to deal with them. Ask them how they would react differently towards these feelings.

Create their Own Calm

A big part of emotional intelligence is the self-soothing ability that comes with it. Apart from being able to label emotions and feelings, your kid needs to know how to work through these feelings. Ask them what they think would calm them down, or whether they need some time alone to work through those feelings. Put the power in their hands when coming up with practical ways to create their own calm.

Focus on Listening

Try to put the focus on listening during family activities. This will allow each family member to understand and interpret what the others are feeling, instead of merely voicing a response. If you struggle to find the communication balance, you can use something like a ‘talking stick’ where each kid gets the chance to share a story or emotion, only when the stick is passed on to another, are they allowed to respond.

Having a high emotional intelligence will improve your kids’ chances to succeed academically, connect with others and understand and manage their own feelings and emotions. Those with a high EQ make great leaders since they are aware of the feelings and needs of those around them, and know how to use this to the group’s greater benefit.

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