Learning how to nurture your child’s emotional health in children is one of the most important aspects of parenting. Daniel Goleman, expert on emotional intelligence, asserts: “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressed emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
There are many components of emotional intelligence, but figuring it all out can sometimes feel tackling a four-course dinner with a screaming toddler in tow. So how can we learn to teach our children about feelings, so they can become emotionally intelligent adults? Let’s take a look at a few key strategies.
Nurturing your child’s emotional health starts by discovering the root-cause of problem behavior
Does your child act out when you ask him to complete a chore or finish his homework? If so, chase the why and get to the bottom of things. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk it out. Begin a conversation with empathetic words, saying something like, “Sweetie, you seem upset because I’ve asked you to take out the trash. Can you put words to what’s going on for you?” Or, “You’re upset because you had to come in early for dinner when you were having fun. Sweetie, what’s going on? Let’s talk about this.” As a result, your kiddo will expand his awareness of his emotions.
Emotional health means accepting all of your child’s emotions
Expressing emotion is healthy and means your child is taking an emotional risk. Remember, you don’t have to agree with your kiddo’s intense feelings. When those moments arise, try taking a deep breath, lean in and pay attention. Say something like, “You know what? When I was your age, I felt exactly the way you do too.” When your child sees you modeling emotional intelligence and empathy, he’ll discover the freedom to find and then be his true self. As a result of accepting all of your child’s emotions, it will help him calm down when hot emotions rev up.
Soothe your panic buttons
When your child acts out, you may find your blood pressure rising along with your anger. As a result, don’t let yourself get emotionally hijacked. You may be tempted to yell, set harsh boundaries, or out or act rashly. But by breathing deeply and not letting your anger escalate, you’ll give yourself time to calm down and parent with grace again. As you model how to emotionally self-regulate, your kiddo will learn to regulate his anger. It’s a matter of “monkey see, monkey do.”
Remember, anger is always about something deeper
If your child is upset because he has to finish his homework instead of playing, chances are there’s, even more, going on. Perhaps he’s craving quality time with you, or he’s feeling stressed out and tired from school. As a result, it’s important to create opportunities for discussion. It provides a safe space for your child to talk things out and decipher why he’s so angry. You can lead the conversation with something like, “When I was your age, I used to get upset about homework just like you.”
Emotional health in children involves wish fulfillment
What does your child desire? What does he crave? What does he dream about? Nurturing your child’s emotional health involves giving him the space to dream and share his feeling aloud. Discuss how you can make these things happen.
- Child: “I want some crackers.”
- Parent: “We don’t have any.”
- Parent: “I wish I had some crackers for you.”
- Parent: “I hear how much you want crackers. I really do.”
- Child: “No! I don’t want carrots. I want some crackers.”
- Parent: “Quit fussing. Now you’re acting like a baby.”
- Parent: “I wish I had the magic power to make a giant box of crackers appear for you.”
When our kiddos want something they can’t have, it’s so tempting to respond with a logical reason as to why they can’t have it. And, the harder we explain, the harder they protest. Sometimes, just having someone hear how much we want something eases the pain of not getting it.
A Point to Ponder
Like anything in life, developing your child’s emotional health takes practice. As a result, by exploring the root cause of his behavior, accepting all of his emotions, keeping your anger in check, and letting your kiddo dream and fantasize a bit, you can teach your child to identify and express emotions and build his emotional intelligence.
|Author: Steve Cuffari For many, Steve Cuffari is the mentor that parents call on to make their parenting style warmer, easier and more effective. He is the founder of InTouch Parenting, a company devoted to helping today’s parents calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture families that thrive. read more about Steve Cuffari here…|