Your emotional IQ is your ability to handle your own feelings and be aware and respectful of those of other people.
If your child has a high emotional IQ, he’ll be better able to cope with his feelings, calm himself down, and understand and relate well to adults and other kids. A child with a high “EIQ” is more likely to form strong friendships and succeed in school than others. He’s also better equipped to control negative impulses, even when things aren’t going his way. Experts now believe that emotional skills can be taught at an early age, when children are more flexible in their inner growth.
How can you teach your emotional intelligence?
Listen with empathy. Listen carefully to your child, then mirror back to him, listening to your child doesn’t mean solving the problem for him, dismissing it, or joking him out of a bad mood. Use examples from your own life to show him you understand what he’s said This tells the child that he is not alone in feeling the sting of rejection, and that those feelings can be dealt with.
Acknowledge your child’s perspective and empathize. Empathizing doesn’t mean you agree, just that you see it from his side, too. He may have to do what you say, but he’s entitled to his own perspective. We all know how good it feels to have our position acknowledged; somehow it just makes it easier when we don’t get our way. Feeling understood triggers soothing biochemicals; that neural pathway you’re strengthening each time he feels soothed is what he’ll use to soothe himself as he gets older.
Little ones can’t differentiate between their emotions and their “selves.” Accept your child’s emotions, rather than denying or minimizing them, which gives children the message that some feelings are shameful or unacceptable. Disapproving of her fear or anger won’t stop her from having those feelings, but it may well force her to repress them. Unfortunately, repressed feelings don’t fade away, as feelings do that have been freely expressed. They’re trapped and looking for a way out. Because they aren’t under conscious control, they pop out unmodulated, when a child socks her sister, has nightmares, or develops a nervous tic.
Emotional drama is normal for toddlers, and you can use these outbursts as opportunities to help your child learn how to manage big feelings. If your child erupts at a store because you won’t buy her a treat at the checkout stand, validate her feelings first: “I know you’re disappointed and angry, but we are not getting candy today.” Once the storm has passed, have a brief conversation with her and help her name how she felt.
When your toddler gets in a dispute with you or another child, make the limits clear and then guide him toward a solution. For example, you can say, “I know you’re upset with your sister for knocking over your block tower, but you can’t hit her. What else can you do if you get mad?” If your child doesn’t have any ideas, give him options. Check his tummy, jaw, and fists to see if they’re tight, and then demonstrating how to breathe deeply “to blow the mad out.” Show him that it feels good to regain control.