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Emotional intelligence: Understanding yourself and others

Emotional intelligence: Understanding yourself and others

Why is it that sometimes people say all sorts of things without sparing a thought for how others feel? Have you wondered what makes them say these unsolicited comments or remarks? Long story short, it all boils down to emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to a person's ability to understand, manage, and express their own emotions, as well as the ability to recognise and respond appropriately to the emotions of others. It involves being aware of your own feelings and those of others, and using this awareness to guide your thoughts, behaviours, and interactions with others.

It's a vital skill that will help your child navigate their relationships with friends, family members, and other people they may encounter throughout their lives. Research shows that children with high EQ tend to perform better in school, have more positive relationships, and are generally more successful in life.

So how can you help your child develop a higher level of EQ?

Encourage self-awareness

Encourage your child to recognise and express their emotions outwardly, and help them understand that all emotions from happiness, anger, sadness and everything else in between are valid. Teach them to recognise physical cues that typically accompany certain emotions, such as a racing heart or sweaty palms.

One way to encourage self-awareness is to ask your child questions about their feelings. For instance, if you notice your child feeling upset, you can ask them what's making them feel sad, or what they might possibly need right now to feel better. This helps your child learn to identify and articulate their emotions, which is a great way of helping to manage them.

Foster empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share or relate to the feelings of the people around you. It's an important component of EQ as it allows children to build positive relationships and resolve conflicts effectively.

One simple way to foster empathy in your child is to model it yourself. Children see their parents as their role models, which explains the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ saying. When your child is upset, take the time to listen to them and acknowledge their feelings. Help them understand that other people have the ability to feel the same things that they’re feeling right now, and that it's important to be considerate of those feelings.

See things differently

Another aspect of EQ is taking perspectives, or the ability to see a situation from someone else's point of view. This helps children develop empathy and understand different perspectives, which is helpful for building positive relationships.

To encourage perspective-taking, you can ask your child questions, such as asking how they think someone else felt when something happened. It can be about a friend, a family member, or a complete stranger. Questions like this encourage your child to consider different viewpoints and think through their actions thoroughly.

Teach self-regulation

Self-regulation refers to the ability to manage one's emotions and behaviour in response to different situations, which can help your child manage their stress and avoid impulsive behaviour.

One way to teach self-regulation is to help your child develop coping strategies for difficult emotions. For example, if your child gets angry, you may teach them to take a few deep breaths or go for a walk to calm down. Encourage your child to take a break when they feel overwhelmed and teach them that it's okay to ask for help when they need it.

Celebrate emotional intelligence!

Last but not least, it's important to celebrate EQ when you see your child demonstrating it. Recognise and praise them when they handle a difficult situation well or show empathy towards someone else. By celebrating this behaviour with positive reinforcement, you help your child understand that it's a valuable life skill worth developing.

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Suitable for primary & secondary