One of the most important things you can do for your child is to help them to be able to manage their emotions and be empathetic to others. It is however not easy to teach.
Here are the best tips, experts recommend to raise emotionally intelligent and empathetic children.
Teach Your Kids To Pause
Children are naturally impulsive by nature and when unchecked they can become impulsive adults. This undermines emotional intelligence, and it is important to teach children to stop and think about how they feel before they act.
Some experts suggest using visual cues, like a special bracelet or trigger words to help kids learn how to pause. Explain to them the importance of taking five seconds to respond to anything, unless it’s an emergency.
You can adopt a routine strategy where you have them look up, look down, look left, and look right before responding, which forces them to pause.
You should create time for mandatory family-talk time. Experts say the average parent spends three and a half minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children. Make it a rule for the whole family to sit together for at least 15 minutes per night and, talk!
Help Them Sort Through Their Feelings
Children of all ages may struggle to put words to the emotions they’re experiencing. You can help them by suggesting, but never telling them, what they might be feeling.
For example, you could say. ‘If my best friend wouldn’t talk to me, I would probably feel abandoned or unwanted…does that sound right?’
You could share your feelings if you experienced a similar situation, thereby encouraging your child to open up and trust you with her feelings.
Teach Them Empathy Through Awareness of How Others are Feeling
Spending time talking to your kids about the emotions of others is a great way to build a foundation for developing empathy. Empathy plays an important role in emotional intelligence.
When your child talks about something happening at school to someone else, for instance, ask them to imagine how that person felt. If something happened to someone you know, don’t forget to demonstrate empathy when talking about it in front of your kids.
Accept and Encourage Your Child’s Emotions
Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they are just what they are, feelings! Everyone is entitled to their feelings, including your child. Always encourage them to express their feelings through questioning.
For instance, if they look sad or upset and aren’t speaking, you could ask, ‘You look down today; did something happen?’ Never pass judgment or doubt their feelings. For children; like anyone else, their feelings are real and authentic.