For episode 115 we explore the ever important topic of emotional intelligence. According to Wikipedia – Emotional Intelligence (or EQ, emotional quotient) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments or achieve one’s goal(s).
While some schools have begun to teach EQ, they still primarily focus on IQ. Here are a couple ways to strengthen their EQ:
1) Teach them there are different emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust.
2) What does each of the feelings look like? Sound like? You could show pictures of facial expressions or do them yourself.
3) Have them recognize these emotions within themselves. When do they feel this way? When have they felt this way in the past?
4) Talk about your own feelings. We often avoid talking about our feelings thinking we are protecting our children.
5) Recognize and explore feelings in different places. Talk to them about how they feel when they are at home or at school. How do they feel when they go to a specific place.
6) Allow them to express themselves. You getting upset when they are scared, or minimizing a situation they are really mad about does not help. Allow them to express their emotions.
7) Show empathy / teach empathy – We can’t teach it if we don’t do it ourselves. It’s one of the most important skills of EQ.
8) Teach them how to problem solve – Not all emotions require problem-solving. Sometimes just feeling the emotion. or “letting it out” is enough. However, if a problem needs to be solved, teach them how to approach it. For example “You are really angry that your sister took your toy. I can see how that would make you mad. What do you think we could do to solve this?”
9) Teach them emotions aren’t “good” or “bad” they just “are”. Emotions shouldn’t have judgment, praise, or criticism. They just get to be as they are.
You are ultimately wanting your child to be able to recognize their emotions and understand other people’s emotions. Asking them “What are you feeling right now?” is a good place to start. When they answer “I don’t know” it probably means they really don’t know. It’s time to do some emotional intelligence work with them.