Parenting is hard to say the least. Unfortunately there is no how-to-manual to help and one size definitely does not fit all. All parents want to raise their children to be amazing adults. One thing on the experts’ radar is to give parents the secret to raising emotionally intelligent kids. Want to know how? Well, parents who want to raise emotionally intelligent kids need to teach this one skill-empathy.
According to the experts, here are five ways to teach children empathy and help them become emotionally intelligent.
1. Model emotional intelligence grounded in empathy
We all know that children mimic the adults in their lives. Whatever the behavior, remember, little eyes are watching. If you demonstrate empathy, compassion, and self-awareness, they will model your behavior. There is no better teacher than someone model emotional intelligence first-hand.
2. Be okay with your own feelings
If you are modeling emotional behavior for your children, then you definitely need to commit 100% and be okay with how you feel. If you are sad, show it. If you are happy, celebrate it. If you are angry, deal with it in a healthy way. By being okay with your own feelings teaches your children to be okay with their own.
3. Validate their feelings
Many experts have pointed out that kids, “listen better after they are heard.” When children have strong emotions or feelings, validate them and let them know that they are being heard. Psychologist and communication expert, Eran Magen has a helpful acronym for parents to remember to do this. It is, WIG or What I Got? Some examples of what parents should say to let their children know that they’ve got their emotional back include the following:
- “What I got from what you said is that you feel like your friend betrayed you.”
- “Am I getting this right — that the way she said it made you feel like she was trying to embarrass you?”
- “It sounds like you’re pretty disappointed about your performance.”
- “I think you’re saying that your emotions were so strong in the moment that you freaked out.”
- “Let me see if I’m understanding. Other kids were doing it, too, and you feel like your teacher singled you out, and that’s not fair.”
4. Let children ask questions
Once children feel comfortable with their own emotional intelligence growth, sit down with them and ask questions. Delve deeper into how they are feeling, why, and more. This will not only help them think more about their feelings and emotions and question “why am I feeling this way?” It will also allow some quality time together that you all will cherish.
5. Celebrate your child’s emotional intelligence and empathetic growth
When your child begins to demonstrate emotional intelligence and empathetic growth, it is time to celebrate! Order pizza, allow them to have their special desert, add an extra hour of screen time. Positive reinforcement goes a long way with cultivating behaviors for children that are for the long haul.