Children who do well in school, do not always succeed in life: some may be academically brilliant, but find that their weaker emotional and social skills limit their achievement.
Emotionally intelligent individuals: –
- Are self-aware. They understand their emotions, and why they react to situations in the way they do.
To help your child become more self-aware: –
- Help them to identify and label their emotions: ‘I’m feeling irritated because football practice has been cancelled. I really wanted to go tonight.’ ‘I’m worried because we’ve got a Physics test tomorrow and I don’t understand the topic.’
- Allow them to express their feelings without fear of judgement, and then listen to what they say.
- Help the child to develop the ability to communicate their feelings and opinions clearly and calmly to others.
- Are able to self-regulate. Emotionally intelligent individuals are able to manage their behaviour; for example, they can remain calm when angry, or use relaxation techniques when nervous.
To help your child to self-regulate: –
- Demonstrate how to pause and use your head, before reacting to a situation. If the adult is able to respond calmly during periods of stress, children will learn how to remain calm. If the adult stops to consider choices, the child will learn to do the same.
- Demonstrate a variety of ways to cope with negative feelings: go for a walk in the fresh air, run up and down the stairs, clean your bedroom, listen to music or distract yourself by spending some time on a favourite hobby.
- Children learn by copying the behaviour of those close to them, so try to demonstrate positive thinking by, for example, recognising that a challenge or problem exists, and trying to find a solution rather than appearing helpless.
- Be brave: help your child to understand that mistakes and failures are part of life, but with practice and perseverance, they will be able to progress.
- Humour, laughter and play are perfect antidotes for negative feelings. Laughter reduces stress and will calm the child down.
- Have the ability to understand the feelings of others. Empathetic children are considerate. Everyone enjoys their company and feels better after spending time with them.
To help your child to develop empathy: –
- Be empathetic yourself, so the child sees kind, thoughtful behaviour as the norm. Being kind releases hormones that will improve the individual’s physical and mental health.
- Explain that there are always two sides to every story. If a friend is arguing, they could be feeling tired, worried or sad.
‘How might Theo have felt when you teased him? How would you have felt if he did that to you?’
- If the child hurts a friend’s feelings, teach them how to apologise.
- Show the child how to be a good listener: to listen attentively without looking away, fidgeting or showing boredom through body language. To ask open ended questions that require more than a yes / no response, and to make supportive responses: I see, uh-huh, mmm, OK.
- Possess good social skills. Children with good social skills are popular with their peers. They will sort out friend’s arguments, maintain old friendships and forge new ones.
To help your child to develop their social skills: –
- Allow the child plenty of time for free play. Through free play, children practise empathy, develop self-awareness and self-expression, acquire conflict resolution skills, the ability to take turns, co-operate with others, and the skills required to self-regulate.