Emotional intelligence (EI) is when the right and left brain work together to guide us to make sense of our own emotions. Emotional intelligence teaches us to:
A. Identify and understand our emotions
We know when we're angry or sad. We know how to make sense of what we're feeling at the moment.
B. Be sensitive to social cues (verbal and non-verbal cues)
When someone cries or clench their teeth, we understand these cues as a sign of sadness or anger.
C. Manage and regulate emotions
When we're angry or sad, we find effective ways to help us calm down.
In other words, emotional intelligence is all about communicating our emotions positively and effectively. But this is easier than done. Often, we let our emotions (right brain) take control of our actions. When the right brain overpower our left brain (logical thinking, reasoning), we tend to put ourselves in the "act without thinking" kinds of situation, such as physical violence, verbal abuse, school bullying, cyber-bullying, or self-harm.
Cultivating and nurturing emotional intelligence in children is one the most vital part of parenting. We want to guide them to recognise and understand their own emotions. We want to provide them with the skills to regulate themselves during difficult and stressful times. And most importantly, we want them to be able to empathise and have healthy relationships with others.
Children's emotional intelligence begins at home with you. Here's how.
A. Create safety and trust
Children's emotional intelligence is nurtured through a trusting relationship with their parents. Create a safe and positive learning environment for children to grow up. Be encouraging and supportive of them.
B. Don't ignore it
Don't ignore negative emotions. When we're angry or sad, we can acknowledge it, accept it and talk about it. Repressing emotions are bad and unhealthy for our wellbeing. If these repressed feelings do not have a healthy outlet, we may one day lash it out on our kids. And it will affect their emotional development.
C. Parental wellbeing
Children are very sensitive to their parent's wellbeing. If we're always anxious and fearful, kids may pick it up. That's why we need to be calm for our kids to be calm.
To teach emotional intelligence, we first have to be aware of our emotions and learn how to regulate them positively. If we react to our emotions with violence and negativity, kids will pick it up. But if we model the right ways to manage our emotions, kids will learn and follow.
In my next blog post, I will discuss more ways to nurture emotional intelligence in children.