Emotional intelligence (EQ) teaches your child to care about how other people feel. This is important as it helps better develop their temporal lobe, specifically the amygdala which is the part of the brain that controls friendship, fear, aggression, love, affection, and the expression of mood.
We're going to share the top four ways to increase your child's EQ.
1) Let them Rock
Tal-Chen Rabinowitch’s paper “Musical Games and Empathy” highlights the fact that when kids play music with a group of other children, it teaches them to be more empathetic. Since, playing together with others requires harmony, it helps children to pay attention to others, synchronize their efforts and also understand where the other kids are going with their melody. This helps them build trust.
We already know playing instruments enhances the child’s brain activity, and now we you know that playing with others increases their emotional intelligence and people skills. So next time you are thinking of signing up your child for a piano lesson, make it a group class or invite the friends of your child along.
2) Attach the emotion to a face
Another way of developing your child’s emotional intelligence is by simply talking about their emotions. Talking with your child about how he/she feels helps him/her connect actions with emotions. Even better, talking about his/her emotions helps him/her understand how what they do affects other people as well.
What is even more interesting, according to “The Functional Architecture of Human Empathy” article, making silly faces, even if it is for the fun of it, helps children empathize with the real emotion. Practice making a silly happy face, a silly sad face, a silly angry face and have your child identify the emotion on your face and then have your child make some silly faces with you.
3) Practice "Class Hour"
Class Hour is something that the Danish schools do, where for an hour of the week the class sits down to talk about the challenges they face with the class and other students, and then try to solve them. Teachers start it off by stating what they have noticed and then open the floor for the students to discuss. Children are the core of the process and if no one has any issues, then the children play together. This helps them develop openness and feel secure among others.
Waiting for schools to implement this in the US might be a long wait. So, instead, use the same approach at home where you act as the teacher. Start a conversation about the situation at home and let them participate. This will prepare your child to feel open in discussing their emotions and challenges, rather than acting out.
4) Practice "Emotion Coaching"
Disciplining your child by instilling fear in them to behave well is an antiquated strategy. This has long been proven to not only be ineffective, but creates resentment in your child. In addition, when you resort to fear, you replace the love resulting in your child doing something because they have to, rather than seeing why they should want to (a higher level of cognition). Lastly, using harsh disciplinarian techniques will weaken the power of your word.
Practicing “emotion coaching” will help them behave better. Emotion coaching is when you help your child understand the root of your child’s behavior and then give it a name. Empathize with them. For example, if they are angry because they can’t play with a toy, tell them “I understand. You are angry because you can’t play with that toy, that must be frustrating.” Let them explain themselves and whenever they indicate their emotion, help them name it, and tell them that the way they behaved when they felt that emotion is not acceptable. When your child is able to describe his/her emotion, it becomes less traumatic of an experience for them.
Afterwards, when they calm down, ask them why they felt the way they did, what made them angry. Make sure you listen to them and let them know that you are hearing them and that what they are feeling is valid. Do not judge them because at this point you are building rapport and trust with them. If you judge them and make them feel guilty while they are being vulnerable to you, then they will begin to resent you and no longer trust you. This will be critically important when they get older and you need them to be very honest with you about everything. Then, talk about solutions and how they could better handle that situation if it comes up again in the future. This way you raise a child that is not afraid of being wrong or “bad.” This means you are developing a child that will make better choices, understand self-reflect, and also be considerate of other people’s emotions.
By increasing your child’s EQ you will raise a more caring, more intuitive child who is also a better at decision-maker. These four ways will help make you a more emotionally-sound parent and pass it onto your child.