Intelligence is not just math skills, chess, and honor roll, there is also something very important that is becoming more and more popular to discuss. This subject is known as emotional intelligence, and if you want to raise a happy and successful child, you want to understand how to cultivate emotional intelligence.
As a parent, it is my goal to raise my child to be an important player in the upcoming generation. I want to give my child every tool necessary to flourish in the world. In their new book “The Emotionally Intelligent Child: Effective Strategies for Parenting Self-Aware, Cooperative and Well-Balanced Kids,” Rachael Katz and Helen Shwe Hadani discuss 9 important habits for raising emotionally intelligent kids.
Research supports the writing duo, showing that with higher emotional intelligence comes an increased chance of leading a more successful life. If you haven’t already, check out their book. Below, is a summary of the book in the form of a list of habits they broke down for Inc.com.
1. Look out for disconnects.
It might sound obvious, but kids are not on the same level as we are. When you are explaining things to them, and they just don’t seem to grasp it, it’s likely because they are not understanding it. After all, their development isn’t quite up to speed. Instead of getting frustrated, use this opportunity to get on their level and help them learn.
2. Communicate through play.
Play to a child is not just playing. During play, children learn valuable skills. As a way to get on your child’s level, incorporate communication into play. Katz suggests using puppets.
3. Model thinking out loud.
It might sound odd, but a good way to help your child to become more self-aware is to think out loud. Say what you are doing as you do it. Explain your thought process to your child. Engage them by asking thought-provoking questions about their thoughts.
4. Plant the seeds of self-compassion.
According to Katz, “This is where you’re talking out loud, and you say — or you can say to your kids — you know, sometimes I tell myself, ‘I’m not OK.’ And then, you can ask, ‘Do you get that too? Does your inner voice ever tell you a message like that you’re not OK?’
When kids learn that, they’re so excited. They’re just chomping at the bit to tell you what their inner voice is saying.”
5. Realize the disconnect between body language and speech.
Hadani explains that very early in life, kids learn to read our body language. They do this, so they can understand how we are feeling/what we are thinking, so they can communicate with us, even without words. As they get older, they may end up confused because our behavior doesn’t always match our words. Hadani says, “A big part of emotional learning is learning to read that somebody is more than the words that they are saying.”
6. Discuss emotion out loud.
In many families, emotions are brushed under the rug. However, it’s robbing your child of invaluable lessons (and possibly their mental health) to brush their emotions under the rug. Instead, talk about emotions. If you notice someone upset, discuss it with your little one. If you are feeling sad, discuss it. Make every emotion (within reason) a learning opportunity.
7. Ask instead of telling.
The same is true of both adults and children: when you allow participation in the planning of action, they are going to be far more likely to want to participate. So, ask for your child’s insight on how to plan to accomplish certain tasks. For example, Katz says you can say, “Hey, we’re about to leave the house and go to school. Are you ready for this? What’s it going to look like? What are you going to do first?” When you ask them, they have time to plan and articulate their plan.
8. Embrace emotional change.
As a species, we put a lot of emphasis on staying happy, ignoring a hard subject: happiness isn’t a constant state and our moods are always changing. That isn’t a bad thing, it’s a normal thing. Instead, of fearing a change in emotional states, acknowledge them and get your child engaged to do the same. Ask them about their mood moment by moment.
9. Try to not judge.
Finally, they say, if you want to “build the architecture for emotional intelligence,” to avoid shaming, blaming, or criticizing. There is no such thing as perfect.