Tuesday, March 26, 2024

3 Key Strategies for Teaching Emotional Intelligence to Children


Emotional intelligence is built on the foundations of self-awareness. The more that children can notice what is happening within themselves, they will learn to express their thoughts in healthier ways. In turn, this also encourages them to develop true empathy and compassion for others. As parents, you have the opportunity to model emotional intelligence at home. Spend quality time teaching the skills to them, but also re-directing them when it is misused.

  1. Become familiar with and make time to expand their emotional vocabulary: Children are still learning how to articulate their emotions. Use what is called the “emotions wheel” found on the internet. For example, the word anxiety can mean many different things: nervousness, overwhelm, or stress. The more specific they can describe how they feel, they will be open to receiving instructions from you. 

  1. Use “I” statements: Each individual needs to take ownership of their actions. These “I” statements are a clear starting point for your family. Remember that your children are constantly adjusting to the world around them. There will be a disconnect between their emotions and other people’s actions. You may have heard them say, “You made me upset or I don’t like you for doing this to me.” A statement of ownership sounds very different, “I felt upset earlier because I didn’t get to go to the movies with my friends.” Creating this type of home environment opens them up for guidance rather than blaming others.

  1. Help Them Understand The Difference Between Emotions and Thoughts: When children can be helped to distinguish between emotions and thoughts, they ultimately understand they are not their emotions. No one is an angry person even though people most commonly will refer to their emotions that way: “I’m so angry.” Reiterate to your children that the correct phrase is “I feel angry or I have anger.” It is not accurate to say “I feel like I’m not doing enough.” This is not an emotion. When it sounds more like a thought, you can correct it. Did you mean to say, “I feel sad because I think I’m not doing enough?”

How might you be using these strategies this week? Always take it one day at a time. You do not need to take them all at once. You can introduce one strategy this week and practice it as a family.

About the author: Joy Acaso is our own Parenting Coach at Night Watch Childcare Center. She has over 17 years of experience in the mental health field. She is available to answer your questions and provide resources that can help your family thrive.

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