It is always said that parenting does not come with a manual. Parents around the globe have more questions than answers and one of the dominating questions in parenting streets is How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Kids? Every adult desires to raise kids with a good EQ. So before we navigate different sources to answer this critical question, let us start by asking a basic question: What is Emotional Intelligence?
What is emotional intelligence
Emotional Intelligence or EQ as it is known is the ability to own, regulate ,perceive and understand your emotions as well as other people’s emotions.
Why is it a big deal?
People with high EQ can manage stress easily.If you understand the catastrophic fruits produced by stress in our generation you will agree that even if this was the only benefit it is worth investing in our kid’s emotional intelligence.
EQ is the pillar of interpersonal relations. Question, who want to be around people who are not emotionally in touch with themselves? or people who cannot regulate their own emotion?. So developing your kid’s EQ will be one of the greatest treasures that you can add to their now and future relationships.
It is the tool/power you need to be able to adapt and thrive under different circumstances. The truth is we cannot promise our kids a smooth path to their destinies in life. The reality is that life will serve them some bunch of lemons in different sizes during different seasons of their lives. Emotional Intelligence is what makes one person kill himself over an incident while the next person uses the same occurrence to thrive to the highest heights.
It is crucial for general health, physical and mental. We spoke about Emotional Intelligence being beneficial for stress management. It is estimated that 90% of physical illness is caused by stress. This means that when we develop emotional intelligence we are indirectly combating stress which will have a direct impact on our physical health.
For achievement of personal goals. I have not heard of anyone who rose to the heights of their career or build an impactful business only with an IQ. EQ is what makes creators, investors, and geniuses stand out. If by chance one rises to such heights without a developed EQ, they turn to easily lose what they have worked hard for.
It is good for energy and enthusiasm. Most if not all adults who will be privileged to read this have the first-hand experience of how negative emotions can drain the life out of our bones. Most of us have experienced mornings when we didn’t want to get out of bed because of a cloud of sorrow or disappointment hovering over us. Developing our kids Emotional Intelligence will equip them with how to shake off such heavy clouds and go after their goals and dreams.
Pillars of emotional intelligence
Emotional Self Awareness
Emotional self-awareness is the ability to recognize, assess and understand your own emotions. You need to be aware of what triggers them, their depth, how they make you feel, how they impact you and the people around you. You need to be sincere to recognize their positives and their negatives.
You need to be aware of the perceptions that others form about you because of your emotions. Kids from a very young age should be taught how to label and express their emotions.
How to teach kids self awareness
Daily self-reflection – This can be done through keeping a journal or even sitting as a family to reflect on self and others daily. Different family members can give feedback on other’s feelings for that day. Complement where necessary and highlight areas to improve. I am certain that if this is done on regular basis for a long period it will produce amazing results
Teach them to express their feelings – There is nothing as frustrating as dealing with the person who cannot express their feelings because you end up misreading them and maybe taking an action that will worsen their current situations. So teaching our kids to know the difference between being sad, anxious, scared, frustrated, and more is very imperative to the action that needs to be taken to help them conquer their state.
Model it – This cannot be over-emphasized. Live it, give them a real-life experience of what emotional self-awareness looks like. Let them hear you reflect on your reactions and responses. Let them hear you positively being your own critique, of course, telling them what you did right and what you did wrong and how you intend to get better.
Encourage them to know and celebrate their strengths and weaknesses– This will save them a lot of heart and headache. When they are confident in their strengths and aware of their weakness, they will know what to say Yes or No to. This will give them perspective when approaching different situations or when faced with a problem.
You can read more about self awareness on the article Authentic Manhood.
Self-regulation is just as the word says the ability to control or regulate yourself, to understand what is the acceptable reaction/ response, aligning the reaction or the response with the current situation, of course, this will also depend on the age of the child. It is about subjecting your impulses to what you know is right and to your values. It requires that you think before you act even when you are experiencing the most disruptive emotions.
Permit me to say that the foundation to self-regulation is knowing how to label and express your emotions. When you know what you are dealing with and can seek help by expressing it to others, will be of great help.
How to Teach Kids Self Regulation
Parents should understand that kids are not born with the ability to regulate their emotions, it is a skill that must be taught with love and patience. While teaching be ready to calmly handle the big tantrums and the short tempers, how you handle such is on its own a lesson on how to self-regulate.
It is also important to remember beyond the lessons we will teach, self-regulation is mainly dependent on the development of the brain, hence a ten-year-old will respond better to the same issue than a five-year-old. .Practical ways I have used to help my kids conquer strong emotions:
- Big tight hug ( not saying much)
- Deeeeeep breaths ( We do them together)
- We count backward from 100, introducing a little bit of playfulness as they get better or as they fumble ( by the time we get to one they we are now playing almost forgot what has taken place.
- Encourage them to do mantras even if it is silently i.e. I am in complete control of my emotions, I have the power to choose my response in this situation.
- Avoid getting them cranky. Allow enough sleep time, Feed them nutritious foods, provide them with a system and a structure, let them know what to expect and when ( I should acknowledge that I have failed dismally on the latter and that account for most meltdowns in my house, working on getting better daily).
Empathy is the ability to feel another person’s feelings, commonly phrased as ‘ putting yourself in someone’s shoes, intentionally allowing yourself to feel what they feel. I am certain we cannot teach emotional intelligence without teaching empathy.
How to teach kids empathy.
This a very important question and like many other things, empathy cannot be taught without modeling it. Put the other way around the best and most effective way to teach empathy is by being exemplary.
Start by putting yourself in your baby’s shoes when they experience those big disruptive feelings. Remember that due to your developed mind, you might perceive their reaction as an overreaction but for them is a real big deal. So before you dismiss their emotions remember that to them those emotions are real and valid and also remember that you are on a mission to teach empathy so do exactly that empathize. Calm them down and take time to help them reflect on how they are feeling.
Secondly, be on a mission to switch his empathy mode on. This can be done by discussing other people’s feelings together, making them aware of how other people feel, it can be from a movie you are watching together, could be their sibling or it can even be you. Discuss what could have caused the feelings, use different words to explore what the next person might be feeling, and together think of possible strategies to can overcome such feelings.
In a situation where the person studied is a younger sibling, you can give the older sibling a chance to try and help the younger to process and conquer their meltdown.
So much of what is happening in our adult life, both the positive and the negative can be directly traced to our ability to understand and control how we feel. If we teach everything else but fail to teach them to master their own emotions, then their lack of emotional control will destroy all that we taught and invested in them.
I have seen the most beautiful, handsome, intelligent, and talented young adults crumble under pressure, some resorting to drugs all because they could not handle or cope with their own emotions.
My appeal to all parents is to let us not overlook this important aspect of our children’s development. Again let us intentional about them.
Check this article on How to teach kids Mindfulness. Mindfulness is another great tool that can be used for emotional regulation. You will love it .