5 tips to cultivate your children's emotional intelligence

Did you know that in Canada, 1.2 million children are affected by mental illness. Yet less than 20% of them will receive appropriate treatment. A growing body of international evidence shows that promotion, prevention and early intervention initiatives have a positive return on investment. [1]

So why don't we put more emphasis on the emotional and mental health of our children?

Do you want to know my opinion? I think it's just because it's more difficult. Dealing with our children's emotions that are more unpleasant is a much bigger challenge than teaching them to puzzle or count to 10. Yet if we want our children to grow up to be human beings with more age. self-esteem, more empathy, more sensitivity, more courage, more respect… in short, endowed with a great emotional intelligence (EI), well it is important to accompany them so that they cultivate it. Imagine a world where our children would grow up to be adults with greater EI! What better world would it make for us, don't you think?

To help you cultivate your children's emotional intelligence, here below are 5 tips.

Tip # 1

Explain to your children what an emotion is and what it is for. Every emotion has a purpose. It is a mention that our body sends to us to let us know what we are feeling. For example, sadness is an emotion that can slow us down and occurs when we have emotional upheaval. It is very normal and often goes away after a short period of time. Sadness is created when there is increased activity in the brain between areas related to memory and emotions.

In contrast, anger speeds us up, mobilizing intense energy and sending blood to our extremities. Anger signals us that our rights have been violated and helps us mobilize to protect ourselves against future threats.

Tip # 2

As a parent, it is important to understand that there are no negative emotions. There are simply some emotions that are more uncomfortable than others and therefore more difficult to overcome. It is therefore crucial not to ask your children to suppress their emotions. Very often we do it because it is uncomfortable for us. Believe me, I understand. As a parent, we have to work on our patience, and it is not always easy. One of the worst things we can do is force our children to suppress their emotions by telling them to "toughen up" (especially our boys!) Remember that our children need to feel all kinds of feelings. emotions and practice enduring them to develop self-regulation and emotional intelligence.

Tip # 3

One of the best ways to help your child is to help them manage their emotions. This is called emotional coaching.

Here are 5 steps to follow to support your child so that he cultivates his emotional intelligence developed by John Gottman (Gottman Institute). [2]

Step 1.

Be aware of your child's (and yours) emotions.

Observe how the different emotions are expressed (facial expressions, body expressions, etc.).

Step 2.

Recognize emotion as an opportunity for connection or teaching.

Encourage your child to talk about his feelings. Offer them guidance before their emotions lead to inappropriate behavior. Do not ask the child to suppress his emotions by telling them to "stop crying" or "stop screaming", this only devalues ​​his feelings.

Step 3.

Demonstrate empathy and understanding.

Take the time to listen to your child. Avoid criticizing and judging the emotion you feel.

Step 4.

Help your child to verbalize his emotion.

After good listening, help your child become aware of his emotion and find the vocabulary to communicate it.

Step 5.

Help your child find solutions while setting limits.

All emotions are okay, but not all behaviors. Help your child deal with their emotions by developing problem-solving skills. In short, limit expression to appropriate behaviors and help your child set goals and generate solutions to achieve those goals.

Sometimes the stages of emotional coaching unfold quickly. Other times these steps can take a long time. Patience is the key. If the problem is significant, it is not necessary to complete all five steps in one interaction.

Tip # 4

Spend time with your kids. I know it is not always easy. Believe me, I know it. Our children want to be seen, heard and loved. When spending time with them, practice active listening by asking them, showing interest, etc. They will feel important, valued and listened to.

Tip # 5

Laugh with your children. Did you know that laughing for at least 10 minutes a day is recommended? [3] Laughing causes a discharge of dopamine (pleasure) and endorphin (relaxing).

Laughter helps eliminate toxins, digest better, heal, etc.

Laughing with your children is a real source of healing.

Since I end with a "laughter tip", I'll leave you here with a few jokes (just because it's fun):

  • What does a cow do when her eyes are closed? She makes condensed milk
  • What does the shark say after eating a clownfish? It tastes funny!
  • How do pickles enjoy a day out? They relish it! 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget that cultivating emotions is an art. It takes time, patience and gratitude!

#TheArtOfEmotions with SOSOMIMI

[1] Youth Mental Health Canada

[2] Gottman Institute

[3] Health Passport

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