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The Why’s and How’s of Building Emotional Intelligence – Part 2
What are the most important things that I can do to build EQ in my child?
Firstly, the most important thing that you can possibly do is to acknowledge your child’s feelings from birth and never stop doing that – even when the feelings are not desirable.
Nothing good can come of judging or rejecting a child because of his feelings, but on the other hand, it can be equally damaging to a child’s emotional growth to allow his feelings to reign supreme in the household, with everyone at his beck and call.
Instead of being dismissive on the one hand or giving into to your child’s every whim on the other hand, force yourself to view emotionally charged situations as learning opportunities. The goal at those times is for you to help your child with his emotions. And it’s best to expect from the word go that the lesson may need to be repeated a gazillion times, so brace yourself. The sooner you learn to detach yourself from the situation emotionally, the easier it will be to not be swept away in it.
Secondly, over and above being a good role-model and acknowledging your child’s feelings, it’s important to consciously make an effort to teach him to identify and name different feelings. You can do this by simply stating what you’re feeling from time to time, as well as naming your child’s feelings when it’s appropriate and talking about the feelings of characters in stories.
Can a parent read too much into a child’s feelings?
It’s important to bear in mind that most feelings are fleeting and shallow. At best, a feeling can give us a clue to what is going on inside us at a deeper emotional level, but it’s usually not the case. In general, it’s easy to misunderstand feelings because they can be ever-changing and subject to moods and discomfort. A child (or an adult for that matter) may, for instance, simply feel angry or sad because he is having a bad day or because he is hungry, tired, too cold or too warm.
It’s a mistake to always assume that every feeling has a deep, meaningful cause. As adults, we sometimes simply feel a certain way because life happens. Children do too.
That’s why there is no need for you to feel that you are somehow a less effective parent if your child is naturally more highly strung than the next child. Children are fundamentally different and what deeply upsets one child might not even be registered on another child’s radar.