IQ is only half the picture
Why it is important to develop emotional intelligence in children during the early years. This articles explains in detail why IQ is not everything...
Handling the anxiety of starting school. Addressing the fear of the playground bully. Dealing with the disappointment of falling out with a friend. Children start experiencing their fair share of stresses and strains early in life.
Experts have suggested that the ability of an individual to manage such emotions in a healthy way will impact the quality of his life in a much more fundamental way than his IQ. Developing emotional intelligence early helps young children perform their life roles as a son/daughter, sibling, playmate, student and friend.
Parents play a huge role in developing their child’s emotional intelligence. There are several aspects that parents can focus on to establish a solid foundation:
1. Build a positive relationship with your child by being in the moment
When you are spending time together, tune in and think about what is going on with your child.
2. Help your child name his feelings
Assist her in building an emotional vocabulary by giving labels for her feelings.
3. Listen with empathy
Pay attention to your child when she says how she feels.
4. Accept, acknowledge and validate your child’s emotions
Instead of saying “there is no need to get upset”, acknowledge how natural his feelings can be. Teach your child how he can decide what to do with those feelings, such as telling an adult instead of pushing the younger brother.
Remember, it is not wrong for a child to feel angry, but you can and should limit his actions (such as kicking and hitting) when necessary.
5. Avoid repression of emotions
Disapproving of your child’s fear or anger will not stop him from having those feelings. Repressing negative feelings can result in negative consequences such as nightmares or anxiety issues.
Related: Questions to ask your angry child
6. Help your child problem solve
Quite often, when children feel that their emotions are understood and accepted, they are more ready and open to problem solving. Resist the urge to solve the problem, instead, encourage your child to think of a solution or help him in the brainstorming process. This helps to instill confidence that he is capable of handling a tricky situation himself.
7. Model emotional intelligence
Be a role model by staying calm, expressing verbally how you feel. Instead of snapping at people or being verbally harsh when you are angry or stressed, explain how you are displeased with the situation and what you are going to do about it. What your children see you do is what they will do.
Despite efforts in modelling and creating opportunities to develop emotional intelligence, there are red flags that parents should watch out for and seek advice from professionals such as occupational therapists and psychologists, when necessary. Such situations may include children who experience an extended period of fear and anxiety over attending preschool or school, children who have very limited language for the age group, and children who avoid social interaction or playing with others.
Children develop their emotional intelligence over time and across different environments such as home, preschool and playground. By spending quality time, building positive relationships in your family and acting as role models, parents will be on the right track in raising emotionally intelligent children.
This article is contributed by Dr May Lim Sok Mui, Assistant Professor for Academic Programmes at the Singapore Institute of Technology. The first occupational therapist in Singapore to be awarded the Doctoral of Philosophy (PhD) qualification, Dr Lim has a wealth of experience working with young children with developmental delays and disorders in Singapore and Australia. She is also well-versed in providing direct supervision and professional support to occupational therapists and research assistants in different fields.
Dr Lim is one of the key presenters at the Parenting Seminar 2012, organised by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Health Promotion Board and National Library Board. She will be sharing about the development of emotional intelligence in children.
Visit https://app.cdn.gov.sg/ParentingSeminar/Programme.aspx for more details on the seminar happening on Saturday, 27 October 2012.