You’ll learn why emotional intelligence is the host for a variety of essential skills your child uses in daily life and as they move into adulthood.
Major life crisis’ have a way of shifting our priorities. Seeing your child in a hospital bed hooked up to dozens of wires and machines definitely felt like a crisis. Our daughter was so small weighing in at only 8 pounds but was a representation of something much bigger.
Moments that shift our perspective on life don’t come all too often.
But if we’re awake for them, they can offer a guidepost for how we’d aspire to live our lives.
As I was only 10 days into my parenting journey when my daughter had her first heart surgery, it makes sense that the way I wanted to raise my children was the aspect of my life that came into focus.
I can’t say for sure if without these experiences my parenting priorities would be drastically different, but I can say that because of my daughter’s heart surgeries I was able to gain a crystal clear perspective of what really matters most, as I guide my children through their young lives.
Major surgeries or not, we all have those moments where the pieces of life’s puzzle seem to fall into place and it momentarily becomes easier to see what’s important. When those moments arise, I am willing to bet that many of us come to the same conclusion (given we’re all human beings) on what takes the cake when it comes to what really matters when raising little people to live in this big world.
The time and interactions we have with our friends, family and those around us make up the fabric of humanity. Let’s also not discount the longest intimate relationship we’ll ever have, the relationship we’ll have with ourselves.
Now, I won’t lie to you. I do happen to be a family therapist so I am also keenly aware that there happens to be a staggering amount of research backing the power of relationships in our child’s lives. When our child is young their early relational attachments lay the groundwork for nearly all areas of learning and development, but it doesn’t stop there. The basic ‘hard-wired’ need for connection and close relationships remains of primary importance throughout their continuing development.
So where in the world do you start in helping your child gain the skills for life-long healthy and satisfying relationships? You may be surprised to hear that there is one concept, hands down (which almost never happens in parenting right?), which provides your child with the building blocks for healthy relationships with self and others.
Why is Emotional Intelligence so Important?
Emotional Intelligence is defined as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions, as well as understanding the emotions of others. For a child this means having an awareness of what emotions are occurring within themselves as well as being able to identify and work through these emotions in both a personal and relational context.
If all of the ’emotion’ lingo is starting to sound kinda fluffy, hang tight.
Ever since psychologist Daniel Goleman has brought the concept of emotional intelligence into the forefront in 1995 there have been decades of research indicating what a huge determinate emotional intelligence is on a person’s relationships and overall quality of life.
Let’s talk about why emotional intelligence has such a pervasive impact on your child’s relationship with themselves and those around them.
Emotional Intelligence Sets the Stage for Healthy Emotional Development
Knowing how to identify and navigate through our emotions is the primary building block of every social and emotional skill. What does this mean? It means that when we have awareness of what emotions are occurring within us, that they are all acceptable and healthy, and how to cope with them, we have a framework for interacting positively with ourselves and others.
Your child’s emotional intelligence is the platform for a host of critical daily skills, impacting almost everything your child does and says each day.
An emotional intelligence skill set supports your child in an enormous amount of daily activities including but not limited to:
Pretty powerful stuff right? We know with great certainty that fostering the qualities of emotional intelligence in your child will greatly increase their success in both social and emotional endeavors, as well as contribute positively to their long-term well-being.
The good news is, if you’re late to the ‘EI’ party it is a quality that can be modeled and taught to your child with some simple everyday behaviors modeled and taught by parents.
Emotional Intelligence starts with you.
As a parent, you have the opportunity to model and encourage the qualities of emotional intelligence in your child’s everyday life. Here are 7 ways to start today.
1. Change the story around emotion. It is hard to see your child struggle but their mental health and future relationships depend upon it.
2. Allow your child to express all emotions, to feel is to be human.
3. Provide your child with a calm steady presence throughout big emotions, which normalizes expression of emotion.
4.Teach emotion words to your child consistently, emotions need to be identified before they can be worked through.
While we all have unique hopes, dreams, and goals for our families, most of us would agree that without our mental health and meaningful relationships with those we love all the other stuff tends to fade into the background.
It wasn’t those things that came to mind as I watched my small child heal from a life-threatening surgery, and I’d venture to guess I won’t be thinking of those things when she leaves the house to go out into the world on her own, either.
As parents, we can aspire to make an impact in the ways that count in the long run. We can encourage our children to live fully and authentically in their own humanity, engaging in healthy, fulfilling and meaningful relationships along the way.
When we take the time to teach and model emotional intelligence with our child, we’re providing the tools for healthy life-long relationships with themselves, schoolmates, friends, future co-workers, and future spouses (just to name a few).
When we sow seeds of emotional intelligence in our child we give them the gift of emotional health, allowing them to grow and bloom in every aspect of life.