Five steps to helping your child develop emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is very important! Research has shown that people who score highly in EQ do better in all areas of life - not just in their relationships and social worlds, but in their careers as well. So what is it? Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of our own and other people's emotions, to respond to emotions with kindness and compassion, to use this awareness to inform problem solving, and to manage intense emotions well - this may include controlling when and how we express our emotions. Dr John Gottman, researcher into ways of parenting that foster children's emotional intelligence, has five tips for parents. They are - (1) becoming aware of emotions in your child, even where they are at a low level of intensity; (2) viewing your child's emotions as an opportunity for connecting and teaching; (3) listening and accepting your child's emotions, without judgement; (4) helping your child to describe how they feel; and (5) only then, helping your child to problem-solve whatever situation may have provoked their emotional response. Making the decision to parent your child in this way does NOT mean that you will never set limits and boundaries with them! In fact, in some situations you may decide that it's not appropriate to 'emotion coach' your child - for example, when your little one is about to run out on to the road! But parenting in this way creates closer relationships, and means that your child may be more likely to accept limits and boundaries from you when these are necessary. If you would like to learn more about how to use Emotion Coaching with your child, a parenting program called Tuning into Kids may be worth checking out, or its counterpart, Tuning into Teens. These evidence-based groups run all across Melbourne - for more information go to . You can also check out Dr Gottman's book - The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.


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