As parents, we, of course, want the very best for our children. Raising emotionally intelligent kids will help them to become strong adults who will lead happy lives and have healthy relationships. Research by relationship expert Dr. John Gottman shows that emotional awareness and the ability to manage feelings will determine how successful and happy our children are throughout life, even more than their IQ. Seeing ourselves as “emotion coaches” to our kids will have positive and long-lasting effects. We can give them the tools they need to navigate the complicated relationships they will encounter in life, the challenges they will face in the real world, and all the feelings they will encounter in the ups and downs.
Here are a few ways we can train our children to better understand and cope with their feelings and emotions:
1. Help them put words to their emotions. Teach them to name what they are experiencing. As they put meaning to how they feel, it will help them to feel less overwhelmed. Teach them to say things like, “I feel angry/sad/happy/upset right now” and respond to them by saying things like “It sounds like you are hurt right now.”
2. Don’t dismiss or punish your child for being emotional. Dr. Gottman says, “Negative emotions are appropriate and will eventually subside as kids grow. If we disregard their feelings as insignificant or send the message that their feelings are bad, we in effect send the message that they are bad. This damaging perception can stay with them throughout adulthood.”
3. Take advantage of negative emotions. These are teachable moments and opportunities to connect. Use these moments to grow with your child. As frustrating as these moments feel, practice being compassionate and patient as you work with them through the emotions.