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Teaching Emotional Intelligence in Children

Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of how other people are feeling around you. Emotional intelligence helps us use empathy to cater to the emotions of others, and helps give a person a foundation of social skills that prove to be useful in dealing with friends, relationships, and even strangers. For this reason, it’s important to be able to teach emotional intelligence to our children, so that they grow up to be developed and well-rounded individuals. Here are some tips for teaching emotional intelligence to your child…

Talk to them about difficult feelings

First of all, the worst thing you can do, if you’re trying to nurture emotional intelligence in your child, is shy away from difficult emotions, when they arise. If there is a family fight that they witness, then you shouldn’t just ignore it, later, even if it wasn’t that big of a deal. You should address these things to them, head on, so that they begin to develop a healthy understanding of things like anger and sadness. Trying to sweep these emotions under the rug without discussing them will impair their ability to express and recognize these emotions, later on.

Teach them to recognize their own emotions

In order to best recognize emotions in other people, we must first be able to recognize those emotions in ourselves. This is a key attribute of empathy. Children have particularly heightened emotions about nearly everything, but they may not understand why they have those emotions, or even realize that they are happening. When your child is feeling a particularly notable emotion, be sure to point it out to them and help them realize why they are feeling that way.

Don’t downplay their emotions

As stated above, children can experience very extreme emotions, and usually in a form of overreaction. However, it is important not to dismiss these overreactions (at least not most of the time). Even if your child’s emotional reaction isn’t weighted to the reality of what is happening, it still feels real in their minds. Don’t simply dismiss those emotions, outright. Instead, calmly help them recognize the emotion that they are experiencing, and ask them if they think it is a reasonable response.

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