In a country as academically competitive as Singapore, where everyone is busy focusing on IQ (Intelligence Quotient), it’s easy to forget that EQ (Emotional Quotient) is just as valuable.
Did you know? People with high EQ are better at communicating, solving problems, coping with stress, and adapting to change – traits that make for a successful and happy person. As parents, you can help foster your child’s emotional intelligence by adopting these 3 key practices.
1. Teach Your Child How To Identify His Emotions
Aside from basic emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, and anger, there exists a plethora of other emotions in between. This is made even more complicated by the fact that multiple emotions can occur at the same time.
New to such a complex system, young children must be taught the names for each feeling they experience.
Cartoon emotion charts are a good way of introducing different emotions to your child. If you are introducing an emotion for the first time, you may explain what situations can cause that emotion.
You could introduce the word “disappointed” through pretend-play. For example, getting excited for a picnic but not being able to go because of bad weather.
By differentiating each emotion, your child is less likely to overgeneralise all negative feelings as “sad” or “angry”, which can lead to problems like depression or aggression.
It is also important to have your child practice identifying emotions on other people.
You can make it a game by taking turns to act out and guess facial expressions. Doing this enhances your child’s social sensitivity, and increases his awareness on how his actions may impact others.
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2. Be Open To All Of Your Child’s Emotions
While negative emotions are unpleasant, we must teach children to accept that they are a part of life, just like positive emotions.
Problems are prolonged and intensified when we deny or avoid how we truly feel about them. If something happens that understandably upsets your child, provide a safe environment for him to process and express how he feels.
Practice empathy and show that the emotion he is experiencing is normal by sharing a time when you felt that way too.
If your child admits to feeling nervous before a performance, you may say, “You’ve worked very hard on this for a long time, and you just want things to go well. I know how that feels. I felt nervous too when I had to show a big project to my boss”.
Whenever your child shares their feelings with you, positive or negative, praise and thank him for his openness.
This helps to reinforce a foundation of trust, so that he will be confident coming to you with whatever emotions he encounters in the future. In turn, he will learn to be less judgemental and more accepting of others.
3. Practice Problem-solving Together
Although many of us assume that problem-solving is common sense, it is a skill that we must be taught. Children will watch and replicate the way you handle problems, so be aware of how you respond to issues.
React the way you hope your child would if he faced the same situation.
Particularly with interpersonal conflicts, keep your voice and tone calm.
If you reacted to a situation in a way you regret while your child witnessed, find a suitable time to tell him that you made a mistake, and explain the way you should have handle it.
When you child confides in you about an emotional or social problem, listen to him, and provide suggestions when needed.
Common social issues that children need guidance on include:
Anger and stress management
Negotiation with others
Admitting fault and accepting fault in others
Assertiveness and saying “no”
Recognising when and how to ask for help, and offering help to others
Leading instead of bossing
Although these issues can arise in face-to-face interactions, but with technology, more and more of these conflicts occur online.
The average child starts using social media at the age of 8, even though the legal age limit is typically 13. Helping your child navigate emotions experienced through his online activity is as crucial.
When you decide that your child is socially and emotionally mature enough, create his social media account together, and have access to monitor his account for the first few months. Explain that while the online community can be fun and useful, it comes with many risks and dangers.
Teach your child how to recognise and circumvent things like cyberbullying, online predators, and leaking of personal information.
Reward and praise him for good social behaviors he displays online. The internet will most likely play a major role in your child’s social and professional life when he grows up, so it is crucial to foster healthy online habits from a young age.