How to Raise Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence


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Last Saturday I spent the day with a 6-year old while my son went to a sleepover and my husband was out of town. We went to a festival in the city and then came home for an evening together which included sushi, painting fingernails, popcorn, and a short TV show.

Now, I’m NOT a big TV person. It’s just not my thing however since I didn’t pick up a movie I decided we could watch one show. We scroll through Netflix and finally agree on a cooking show. It was one of the shows where they find the WORSE COOKS in America. In this particular show, each contestant gets put on a team with a judge who shows them how to make a dish and then they have to recreate it.

Sounds simple, right?

It’s a reality show so I have no idea what’s actually real but I do know that the two judges were drastically different. I’m sure it was all scripted but what was interesting was how the women judge used shame and humiliation to “motivate” her team while the male judge used light and almost encouraging words in a tactful way to motivate his team. I was curious about what my daughter was thinking.

Then the moment came when my daughter turned to me and said,

Mom, that women has no empathy for her team.”

What? What did you just say??

Me: “Wow, you’re right. Good call. She’s not encouraging, huh? You don’t ever have to sign up to be coached by people who treat you like that. You know that right?”

Daughter: “yeah, I know that mom. She’s pretty rude. You can’t learn when your being yelled at.”

Me: “Wow. You’re right.”

Daughter: “I wonder what team will win.”

Me: “Which one do you think?

Daughter: “The other team.”

This kindergartner gets it.

How to Raise Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence

1.) Learn the Language of Feelings & Needs
As parents we are often so busy, but if you want to raise your child’s emotional intelligence you have to start by understanding your own feelings & needs from your child’s. Your feelings are not your child’s. Your child’s feelings are not yours.

Listen. Communicate. Get curious. Ask Questions?

“Are you feeling angry with me?” “Do you need some time alone?”
“Are you feeling overwhelmed right now.” “Could you use a break?”
“Are you feeling frustrated?” “Could you be needing…”

2.) Talk about the things you see in the world.
So often we miss teachable moments. Was the waiter rude? Did the barista smile and acknowledge you? Did the cashier thank you with sincerity? You don’t have to talk about the experiences at the moment but be aware. Teach your kids to be aware. These experiences are actually the best teachers on the planet. I personally have had more teachable moments with my kids because we created a space for open dialogue, communication, and the willingness to talk about some of the hard stuff.

3.) Learn and teach the difference between Empathy & Sympathy.
Heck, I didn’t know this until I was well into motherhood. Big big difference. Once you figure this piece out, you then need to put it into practice – I choose Brene Browns model when explaining this. And if you want an even deeper dive into Empathy, I recommend Jeremy Rifkin discussion on Emphatic Response. For me, it was key to understanding why feelings and needs matter. Note: video is long.

If you think someone else can benefit from this information, please share using hashtag #parentingshift

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