Encouraging emotional intelligence in your child

Sunday, January 13, 2013
Encouraging emotional intelligence in your child
Positive encouragement works at all ages but it's also good to be able to say 'no', as children need boundaries as well as learning to cope with disappointment.

Emotional intelligence can be as important as academic success in preparing children for the future and parents play a big part in nurturing self awareness, mood management, empathy and positive relationships.

It is important for parents to make a big effort when children start school as establishing a warm bond before the trickier time of adolescence is very important.

Be ready to listen

It's an exciting but tiring time so don't be surprised if they have little to tell you. Always be ready to listen especially to any worries and make them feel secure by keeping to a routine and getting into good bedtime and eating habits, as that will help keep them alert and more confident. Making sure you're a little early the first few days is a good plan as being even a few minutes late can seem an eternity to a waiting child.

Encourage new friendships

Encouraging a child to develop new relationships outside their family helps them learn to socialise effectively. They also copy their parents in responding to others and dealing with emotions such as frustration and anger so be aware you're being watched! If your child is upset with another child discuss the reason why and gently encourage them to deal with problems, such as persuading others to share toys or take turns in deciding games.

If a child is being particularly overbearing it can help your child to invite them home and enjoy the security of being on their own territory as they discover another and more likable side to someone who had the potential to be an adversary but can be turned into a friend.

Set boundaries

Positive encouragement works at all ages but it's also good to be able to say 'no', as children need boundaries as well as learning to cope with disappointment. Always being treated as a little prince or princess at home makes the transition into dealing with the rest of the world an unnecessarily hard one.

There will be times when you get it wrong, but being able to apologise if you've been unreasonable teaches your children that everyone gets things wrong sometimes and they can be very gracious in forgiving.

Communication is key

Using the right language can make life easier, like saying "What do you need for school tomorrow?" rather than just "Get your bag ready". Encourage them to be confident and responsible and tell them they're doing well, but if there's a problem try and stay as calm as possible. Children want to belong and feel valuable and involving them in household chores contributes to that, despite occasional moaning, as well as developing their awareness of fairness and teamwork.

Play is vital when it comes to developing creativity and problem solving skills, so although computers and games have their place, turn them off in favour of the dressing-up box, painting or building. Encouraging children to enjoy skills such as music or acting bestows social skills and self confidence which will last them into adulthood, as will good manners. Smiling and chatting pleasantly is a skill which makes life better at all ages.

Related video: Dr. Cindy Pan discusses the ways to help your kids excel.

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