As parents, we want what’s best for our kids. We want to do everything possible from our end to help them grow into happy healthy adults. We want them to be the best possible version of themselves. So here are 3 Do’s and Don’ts for building your child’s emotional intelligence:
- Do recognise your child’s negative emotions as an opportunity to connect.
When you see your child undergoing a discomforting emotion, do not suppress it in the child because it makes you feel uncomfortable. Rather use it as an opportunity to help the child recognise and understand what he/she is going through. Try saying, “It sounds like you’re annoyed! I totally get it,” or, “You seem so angry right now. Is it because your friend took your toy? I completely understand why you’d be angry.”
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- Don’t punish or dismiss your child’s negative emotions.
By punishing or avoiding or dismissing or disciplining the negative emotions, you tell your child that these emotions are bad and eventually that your child is bad. This perception can stay with your child and surface from time to time in hurtful manner for a long time to come.
- Do help your child label emotions.
Help your children to recognise and label their emotions. Help them put words and meanings to how they feel. Once this is done, it’ll prevent them from being overwhelmed from feeling a certain way. Try saying phrases like, “I can sense you’re getting upset” or “It feels like you are really exhausted.”
- Don’t convey judgement or frustration.
Sometimes, our kids can put us through situations that are downright annoying, frustrating or exhausting. But try stepping out of your adult shoes and into your child’s. Ask questions, seek understanding and convey to your child your unconditional support.
- Do set limits and problem-solve.
Children love being autonomous and this is a great lesson to self-regulate in a world where we often find others losing control of themselves. Tell them how it’s okay to feel anything but that not all behaviour is okay. Here’s a great phrase to set limits and aid in problem solving: “I understand you’re upset, but lying is not okay. How can you express your feelings without lying next time?”
- Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to learn and grow.
They have an ability to grow into emotionally intelligent adults provided they are offered a pair of listening ears, a hand to hold and a parent who believes in their ability to respond rationally from within.
With these small three steps, you can help your child navigate the intricacies of life with more ease and confidence.