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The role models guide to raising an emotionally intelligent child

Raising an emotionally intelligent child might not always be top of the agenda as a parent but teaching kids emotional intelligence has a multitude of benefits and can make a significant difference to a child's development, well-being, ability to form relationships and their likelihood to succeed in the workplace.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand the way you and others feel and react, express your emotions in an appropriate way, and to use this skill to make good judgments and to avoid or solve problems. Emotional intelligence also enables you to handle interpersonal relationships and to respond to others with empathy and understanding. At Role Models, we believe that such an important skill needs to be taught directly, providing children with the tools they need to fully develop their emotional intelligence.

The term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and its importance is increasingly being discussed in literature and in the workplace. The Harvard Business Review called emotional intelligence— which discredits IQ as the sole measure of one’s abilities — “a revolutionary, paradigm-shattering idea”. Furthermore, Psychologist and New York Times bestselling author, Daniel Goleman, wrote in his paper; Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence that CEOs are hired for their intellect and business expertise and fired for lack of emotional intelligence.’’ There is a growing body of research supporting that individuals (from interns to directors) with higher emotional intelligence are better equipped to work collaboratively within teams, deal with change more effectively, and manage stress – enabling them to be more productive. It is evident that emotional intelligence is valuable, if not vital in order to succeed in life – therefore how can we support our children in developing their emotional intelligence?

According to Unicef, emotional intelligence ‘can be cultivated from an early age and developed throughout life.’ Moreover, they state that emotionally intelligent children become balanced adults, who in turn can rationally and calmly manage complicated situations. At Role Models, we are passionate about providing children with opportunities to develop these fundamental skills, enabling them to reach their potential in all areas.

Child holding E and Q

How can you support your child in developing emotional intelligence?

Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association write about Emotional Intelligence in Children. They identify that ‘learning how to teach emotional intelligence in children is quite vital. Many adults struggle with it because it was not built from a young age’. At Role Models we believe that the academic curriculum alone does not provide children with all of the necessary skills they need and that children are not given enough opportunities to develop these skills. Emotional intelligence is a teachable skill, so therefore why not give our children all the tools necessary to truly thrive?

We have identified 5 key ways in which you can support your child in developing emotional intelligence.

  • Identify emotions

Support your child’s awareness of emotions by labelling them in a way that your child can understand. “I can see you are feeling sad because you are crying…” Children can often confuse some feelings for others. Giving the feelings a name and identifying situations which elicit those feelings is a significant step to becoming emotionally intelligent. Identifying emotions also enables children to develop a greater degree of self-knowledge and self-control. When they understand their feelings and emotions, they are better able to not only manage them, but communicate them to others.

  • Allow children to express their emotions

Allowing your child to express their emotions is vital. They need to practise experiencing and tolerating emotions. Louise Treherne, Director of Character Education at Role Models has written a blog about ways to get your child to open up, with some helpful guidance on creating a safe space.

  • Validate emotions

Listen and respond to your child’s feelings and emotions. Show empathy and don’t shy away from addressing uncomfortable feelings. You do not always need to have a solution to your child’s problems – sometimes simply providing a safe space for them to express themselves is enough. Being empathetic is a sign of emotional intelligence and modelling it to your child is a fantastic opportunity for them to learn. As parents, it can be painful to see our children experience difficult emotions. How we support them with processing these emotions is fundamental to how they interpret and manage their feelings and the feelings of others. In our blog on Responding to your Child's Big Feelings, we offer you tips in navigating these challenges.

  • Model appropriate ways to express emotions

Children are like sponges, constantly observing and absorbing what they see. Modelling how you experience and express a range of emotions provides your child with a blueprint of how to do the same. We tend to want to shield our children from seeing us sad or anxious, however showing children that they are natural emotions and that although they are unpleasant, you are able to tolerate them, will enable them to process these emotions too. We have written about helping children manage their manage worries and anxieties, providing practical support to parents.

  • Help your child problem solve

Some emotions are not necessary to act on, simply identifying them and tolerating them is all that is necessary. However, there are times when emotions are responses to a situation that can be addressed. Support your child in problem solving and being proactive, where appropriate, in addressing their difficulty. At Role Models, we have identified ‘creative problem solving’ as one of our main key skills that we support children with. We run courses on Creative Problem Solving for Kids, providing children with the skills and confidence to problem solve and be proactive in addressing their difficulties.

How can Role Models help?

Developing emotionally intelligent children is one of the key areas in which Role Models supports families. We complement traditional academic education by focusing on life skills that promote social and emotional wellbeing and dynamic thinking, helping young people to thrive in life; both at home and in their future workplace.

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