“Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are, and everyone is entitled to their feelings, including your child,” says Harvey Deutschendorf, author of The Other Kind of Smart, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success.
“Always encourage them to express their feelings through questioning. For example, if they look sad or upset and aren’t speaking, you could ask, ‘You look down today; did something happen?’ Never pass judgment or doubt their feelings. For them, their feelings are real and authentic.”
4. Help your child sort through his or her feelings
Children of all ages may struggle to put words to the emotions they’re experiencing.
“You can help them by suggesting, but never telling them, what they might be feeling,” Deutschendorf says.
“For example, you could say. ‘If my best friend wouldn’t talk to me, I would probably feel abandoned or unwanted…does that sound right?’
You could share your feelings if you experienced a similar situation, thereby encouraging your child to open up and trust you with her feelings.”
5. Model emotional intelligence in front of your children
A big aspect of teaching emotional intelligence in children is modeling it as you experience your own feelings in your day-to-day life.
Children watch their parents closely and pick up on healthy and unhealthy coping skills based on what they observe.
“Share emotions that you have had throughout the day with your child,” suggests Deutschendorf.
“For example, if you became angry because someone cut you off in traffic, share how you handled it in a positive manner. Also, share how good it felt when your boss commended you for a job well done.”