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emotions and empathy in children

5 Reasons Why Emotions Plays A Big Role In Your Child

For decades, parents have been focusing on their child’s intelligence quotient (IQ). Emotions are merely feelings, they say. As we enter adulthood, we experience various job interviews that need us to have a good University Degree or achieve certain awards. Enrolling in a prestigious university would require you to have a certain track record to score an interview. Without having a high IQ, one will not be able to achieve the academic demands and attain a highly respected job.

But, is IQ the only thing that we should have? Would that make us mammals who walk around without compassion and empathy?

Of course not!

Have you heard of Emotional Quotient aka EQ?

There is no standard definition of EQ, but you need to know that it refers to one’s emotional intelligence. According to Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and science journalist, EQ has four domains:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Ability to self-manage
  3. Social awareness
  4. Ability to manage relationships successfully

Over the years, parents realized that IQ is not the only factor to help their children become better people. We want children to understand their emotions, have freedom of speech, be empathetic. Parents now understand that the next generation uses practical solutions that are out of the textbooks.

Goodbye emotionless robot, hello emotional intelligent children!

Here comes the Million-Dollar Question.

How do you reinforce emotional intelligence skillsets in your child?

If you think that only the professionals have the right tools and concepts, you need to get that thought out the door this instant! You are your child’s role model, and you can help cultivate social-emotional learning with your child.

Identify Your Child’s Different Emotions

While growing up, whenever I get hurt or angry, my parents would tell me to ‘get over my tantrums’ and stop being an embarrassment. Do you get that too?

Remember your child is only human and it is natural for them to have those feelings. It is normal to show these emotions. You can ask them “Why are you looking angry?” or “Why are you sad?” You can have your child ranking her emotions on a scale from 1-10, and find out what caused that negative emotion.

When you point out these emotions to them, you are also teaching them to identify their emotions.

emotions and empathy
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Acknowledge and Empathize Your Child’s Emotions

When your child is showing signs that she is feeling upset, take some time to identify the emotion and mod. Show her concern and find out what caused the emotion. It might not be within your control, but empathy helps to reassure and console your child.

In certain situations, you might catch your child observing her friends’ emotions too. You can explain to her the emotions and mood her friend might be feeling, and how she might be able to help. Not only will you be helping her to identify different moods, but she will also learn to show concern towards her friend.

When your child feels understood and validated, the mind learns and absorbs the words and actions that you used. As a toddler, he might have difficulties managing his own emotions. As he grows, don’t be surprised the next time his teacher comes up to you telling you how he consoled his buddy!

Allow Your Child To Express Himself

I know it can be frustrating when your little ones are throwing a tantrum. Accepting their emotions does not mean you approve of the tantrums, it means that it is alright to express them. After validating their emotions, help them to find alternative ways to express their unhappiness.

A negative effect on your child can cause them to repress their emotions and feelings. This repressed feeling will not fade away, and it may turn into a nightmare or negative behavior as he gets older.

Teach your child that it is perfectly normal to be feeling annoyed, angry, sad, joy like all other humans do. However, there are different ways to express them.

For example, when siblings play, it is inevitable for a fight to break out between them. “I know you are unhappy that Adam took your Emmet, I would too, but it is never okay to hit anybody even when you are mad. Tell your brother why you are upset and which other toys he can have instead, can you do that?”

When your child understands that even his mom would get upset or worried, he will feel that he is not being strange or silly. He will be able to regulate and manage his emotions better as he grows.

Teach Problem-Solving Skills

What do you do when your child came to you crying because her sister took her toy from her?

Listen, validate, and suggest ways to deal with emotions. You can try to guide them to understand why and how to react to different emotions. Set boundaries that outline the appropriate behavior through your guidance. When your child feels that you are listening to her, she will calm down and learn how to solve the situation. Setting goals on how to better manage emotions is another useful method.

Empathy alone will not be able to fully nurture your child to learn problem-solving. Guide him to express his feelings without hurting the other person’s feelings.

Avoid Labels

You are your child’s role model, everything you do is the right thing for your child. Children worship their parents like we worship our beds. There is nothing worst than giving a label to another person or in front of his siblings.

If you continuously describe your child as a scaredy-cat or stupid, subconsciously he will allow that term to be part of his identity. His siblings will use those negative names and he might end up an aggressive adult. Name-calling might seem harmless initially, but it is one of the critical factors that makes or breaks a person, especially a young child.

When we get exasperated by our kids, negative speech or hurtful words are bound to spit out from our mouths. Walk away or deep breathing exercises to avoid saying something you’ll regret. Change the way you describe your timid child, use words like ‘observant’ or ‘love to think’ instead. When you use positive words, you are encouraging and inspiring your child to do the same with others.

The mistake I made when I was still learning to deal with my three boys was to hush them and took sides unknowingly. I realized the mistake only when tensions start to worsen between them. Fortunately, through writing this blog, I learned new strategies to strengthen their bonds. Although fights do break out, they have learned to talk through their unhappiness and makeup. They are also getting into the habit of helping each other when the other is unable to complete a task.

emotions and empathy in children
Image from Unsplash

Today, schools have adopted new social and emotional learning systems to strengthen students’ potential capabilities. Studies have proven that emotional health is an important foundation for future success at school, work, and relationships.

Emotional intelligence plays a large role in transforming our children into responsible, resilient, and respectful adults. There are no books or exams that will equip them with the right management and problem-solving skills.

I’d like to think that we are their books of knowledge, and we can bring up happy and positive children through our positivity!

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