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How to Nurture Emotional Intelligence in Children

Every time children get angry or sad, it is common for them to react with temper tantrums (crying, hitting, biting, throwing) because they do not know how to soothe these negative feelings. To kids, these emotions can be confusing and overwhelming if they were not taught to cope the right way.

Instead of using negative discipline to punish temper tantrums, we can teach them to understand and cope with their feelings. With proper guidance on emotional Intelligence, children will learn how to regulate and manage their emotions. Here are a few ways to nurture emotional Intelligence in children.

1. Role Model

Do you raise your voice or hit when you're angry? Do you become easily irritated and frustrated when you're under stress? Can you regulate your emotions and stay calm in difficult situations? How you cope with your emotions is how they will deal with theirs. Read parents and emotions to learn more.

2. Acceptance and Empathy

No matter what children are feeling, be it angry, sad or jealous, we don't want to dismiss their feelings. We can learn to accept and understand them. There's always a reason behind every emotion, and as parents, it is our job to accept and guide them to learn how to manage negative feelings. When children become overwhelmed by their emotions, remember to empathise. Give them the assurance and permission to express what they are feeling and that you will be there for them.

3. Pause and Stop

Children are crying and throwing toys. Before we snap and rush over to punish, we can pause and stop. Do not dismiss their feelings ("stop crying!" or "What is the big deal!") or shame them ("you're a boy, don't cry!" or "crying are for losers!"). Instead, take a deep breath and calmly walk over. We can hold their hands and stay with them without saying a word. Children can sense our calmness and assurance through our eyes. Give them time to process their feelings. Until children are ready to talk, we can listen and guide them to reflect on what happened.

4. Self-Regulation

Our ultimate goal in emotional Intelligence is for children to learn how to self-regulate their emotions. That's why we want to build a regulation path to promote their independence. Talk about the ways children would like to do as calming activities when they get emotionally frustrated. List out a few methods (deep breath, hugging pillow, counting, sensory play) for them to choose as their primary coping mechanism towards these negative emotions.

5. Problem-Solving

Often, when children get angry, it is because they can't get something they want. Since they do not know how to solve it, they just resort to crying or hitting. This is the perfect opportunity for us to guide them to think of different problem-solving strategies. We can say, "you're angry because you wanted the car, but your brother was playing it. I wonder what you can do to get that car?" Let them problem-solve themselves. We can support and encourage them during the process.

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