Cooperation Begins with Trust

Category Archives: Help By Age & Stage

parenting help, parenting solutions, positive parenting, parenting children, behavior problems

How and When Children Develop Emotional Intelligence and Self-Control

How and When Children Develop Emotional Intelligence and Self-Control

Developing emotional intelligence starts in early childhood. Every interaction with parents, caregivers, sibblings and friends gives your child information about their emotional world.

Your parenting choices can influence your child’s emotional development.

Your child’s emotional awareness and how they handle feelings can impact lifelong happiness and wellbeing.  

Growing up healthy goes beyond eating a well-balanced diet, sleeping, having playmates and getting an education.

Feeling loved and cared for are vital to your child’s well-being.

An emotionally intelligent child can recognize a full range of feelings.

What’s more, emotional intelligence allows your child to respond well to how other people are feeling.

For a child to be able to show empathy, care and kindness, they must understand what that is, and what it feels like.

To manage anger, frustration and overwhelm your child will need practice and examples on how to handle emotionally charged moments.

There are many benefits to learning about and supporting your child’s emotional development.

Your child’s emotional intelligence and self control go hand in hand.

Sad, mad or glad?

Does your child typically tell you how they are feeling, melt into a pile of tears or rage loudly when angry? Maybe your child has tantrums or screams a lot?

Most children that are under the age of six actually do a mix of all of the above.

In the early years it takes a lot of practice to express feelings in a clear way, consistently.

Strong feelings aren’t meant to be an inconvinience, they are actually a path towards learning and growing.

Minor social conflicts, i.e. having a hard time sharing with a friend, a fight with a sibling or arguing with you is actually a good opportunity for developing good social coping skills.

It’s normal for young children to experience feelings in an intense way.

The best thing you can do as a parent is to be prepared to help your child learn how to calm down instead of meltdown.

Here’s Why Emotional Intelligence Matters To Your Growing Child

When children are able to recognize their own emotions, they are more likely to be able to express what they need in a calm way.

For parents this is good news because it not only promotes healthy development it also means less tantrums, less power struggles and less whining.

The Gottman institute shows that children with emotional intelligence are also physically healthier, get along with peers and do better in school. Overall, emotional intelligence plays a key role in your child’s well-being.

This doesn’t mean that a floppy child on the supermarket floor or the screaming teen has no emotional intelligence.

Your child’s growing brain needs a lot of support to make good choices.

It’s possible, in fact most likely that as your child grows and learns to handle their feelings they will experience moments of total overwhelm.

Let’s look at some important signs of emerging emotional intelligence

Here are some ways in which you can assses if your child’s emotional intelligence is developing:

  • Your child can talk about their own feelings:
    • “Mommy, I am so happy!”
    • “Hey, I feel mad right now.”
    • “I am scared of the spider.”
    • “I don’t like this. No thank you.”
  • Your child is able to associate feelings and actions:
    • “When I am happy I like to laugh”
    • “He is crying because he is sad”
    • “I hit because I was angry”
    • “I am hiding because I am scared
  • Your child talks about their own feelings and feelings of other people
    • “I feel happy when you smile dad”
    • “I think Abby is sad because I didn’t want to share”
    • “Mom laughs when I tell funny jokes”

Emotional vocabulary and self regulation takes time to develop.

Your influence as a parent or caregiver can be quite positive towards emotional development.

Here are some ways you can help your child understand and manage feelings and emotions as they grow:

Connect the Emotional Dots

Discuss feelings and emotions with your child when it makes sense.

For example, if your child is crying, describe what you observed “You didn’t want to share, that made you sad and now you are crying.”

Simple questions that invite your child to think about their own feelings can be a great way to create emotional awareness.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask your child:

  • What made you happy today?
  • Did anything make you sad today?
  • Do you want to talk about how you are feeling?
  • Is something the matter? Do you want to talk about it?

By offering your child a chance to connect how they feel with how they are reacting they can start to connect the emotional dots.

Keep in mind your child’s unique personality and if they are generally open to answering questions. It’s alright to respect their needs should they not want to answer you.

“Name it to Tame It”

Research on emotional intelligence shows benefits for children to talk about the full circle of having emotions, feeling emotions, and cognitively identifying emotions.  

For example, If a child can say they are mad (name their feelings), they are less likely to spiral into a tantrum.

 Dr. Dan Siegel, author of The Whole Brain Child and No Drama Discipline, talks about naming emotions to tame the emotions.

The process of identifying an emotion helps children develop the ability to let emotions inform them of what they are feeling instead of overwhelming them with big reactions.

The questions from above can open the path towards naming and taming emotions.

Simply staying close by or taking a time in is another option if your child isn’t ready to talk about how they are feeling yet.

Accept all Feelings

Everyone’s feelings and reactions are different and valid. Avoid telling your child how they should feel.

Accepting your child’s feelings is not the same as accepting all of their behaviors. If you keep an open mind, and try to understand how and what your child is feeling you will be providing safety your child needs in order to make good choices.

Think back to the “Name it to tame it” strategy for help on accepting your child’s feelings.

If your child is angry, reflect that back to them. It might sound like:

“You seem to be angry or upset about something” or “Are you angry right now?”

Follow that up with words that reassure your child you want to help them.

Also, there isn’t a perfect script you need to follow. Just show genuine interest in helping your child understand themselves and the situation.

Taking this extra step can open up an opportunity for your child to name and tame those feelings.

Understanding a child’s authentic feelings is much better than insisting they must be feeling a certain way. Beware of telling your child how they must feel.

Stay curious, calm and ready to coach your child through whatever it is that they are feeling. Even if it seems silly or minor to you, for your child their feelings are real and should be respected.

Acepting that your child must expeirence a full range of emotions directly impacts the development of their emotional intelligence.

Discipline in a Positive Way

One of the most influential ways to teach your child how to control their feelings and behaviors is to be a positive role model.

  • Keep your cool when you need to address misbehavior.
  • Take calming breaks instead of yelling or lashing out.
  • Name and tame your own feelings.
  • Look for solutions instead of punishing ripetitive problems.
  • Have faith in your child’s ability to feel her feelings fully.
  • Learn and use positive discipline parenting tools.

If you discipline your child in a positive way, choosing solutions over yelling and punishments you are modeling what emotional inteligence and self-regulation is all about.

It’s unfair to expect children to be better at regulating their feelings then the adults in their own home.

Being able to interact well with other people is a key component of emotional intelligence.

You can directly influence this by making sure your child has positive interactions at home.

This does not mean pampering your child and making sure they are happy all the time.

On the contrary, it means you have the responsibility of creating an environment that allows your child to feel and express a full range of emotions and learn from those interactions.

Setting clear limits and boundaries is always part of a smart and well balanced parenting strategy.

Emotion coaching and empathy from you goes a long way.

 Keep in mind: When children become frustrated, anxious, angry or sad, more than anything they need empathy and reassurance that you love them.

If you are worried your child is often angry, aggressive or out of control, take a look at this guide to anger and agression in the early years and here are tips on how children learn to calm down.

For children that have stopped listening to you or don’t care about consequences, take a look at this guide on what to do when consequences have stopped working.

Learn more about why patience and warmth are more effective at changing your child’s behavior.

Peace & Be Well,
Ariadne

Behavior Changes you Can Expect to see in your Child as you Shelter In Place

Behavior Changes you Can Expect to see in your Child as you Shelter In Place

Sheltering in place can create behavior changes for the whole family. Here you can find information on what you can expect and how you can respond to these behaviors in a helpful and positive way. Quick guide on setting limits included below. With the ongoing pandemic, we are living through very are uncertain times. Routine… Continue Reading

How To Handle Toddler Temper Tantrums and Screaming

How To Handle Toddler Temper Tantrums and Screaming

To stop tantrums it is best to understand why tantrums happen and what really helps your child feel better and calm down.  Most children have tantrums during the toddler years. Tantrums can also happen when children are three or four years old, and even later. Tantrums are actually quite normal and are just expressions of… Continue Reading

Using Consequences To Change Behavior: Sometimes It’s Not the Right Choice

Using Consequences To Change Behavior: Sometimes It’s Not the Right Choice

Changing misbehavior with consequences doesn’t always lead to good behavior. Learn about positive discipline and how it helps children learn life skills and behave well. Late in the afternoon, on the way home from school, my son took hold of my hand and started talking softly. He spoke so quietly, I could tell something unusual… Continue Reading

How to Reduce Attention Seeking Behavior In a Positive Way

How to Reduce Attention Seeking Behavior In a Positive Way

Why Choosing Positive Guidance over Punishment Helps Reduce Attention Seeking and Other Unhelpful Behaviors Children often seek attention in mistaken ways. When you offer guidance, you can help your child feel connected, understood and ready to make better choices. As children grow they become very skilled at figuring out really clever ways to get adults… Continue Reading

How to Discipline when your Child Tells Tall-Tales, Fibs and Lies

How to Discipline when your Child Tells Tall-Tales, Fibs and Lies

Understanding why children tell lies and how to discipline in a way that fosters honesty and healthy development. “My room was full of flying dragons last night, they knocked over the books, not me!” Children often tell fibs, stretch a tale and blame mysterious creatures for misbehaviour. Lying, is actually a sign of intelligence. While… Continue Reading

Teach Your Child How To Be A Critical Thinker

Teach Your Child How To Be A Critical Thinker

Inside: Learn parenting strategies that support the development of critical thinking skills in childhood  “Mom. I made a mistake”said my seven year old. As the word mistake echoed around the two of us, I noticed my son’s scrunched up face. He was clearly worried so I sat down. Shoulder to shoulder with my son I said  “I’m listening.”… Continue Reading

Child Discipline: Patience and Warmth are More Likely to Stop Misbehavior Than Threats and Anger

Child Discipline: Patience and Warmth are More Likely to Stop Misbehavior Than Threats and Anger

Discipline for Children: Three effective ways to stay patient and talk so your child will listen and cooperate. Discipline for children is most effective when it’s aimed at creating cooperation and a sense of trust and respect. When parents focus on using discipline strategies that are respectful and positive, children thrive and grow well. One… Continue Reading

This Simple Change To How You Set Limits On Misbehavior Will Help Your Kids Listen To You

This Simple Change To How You Set Limits On Misbehavior Will Help Your Kids Listen To You

Inside: Learn Eight Key Phrases for setting limits without having to raise your voice using Positive Discipline The idea of parenting with kindness and firmness at the same time sounded so appealing when I first heard it. But I still struggled: What does kind and firm parenting look like, in the moment, when my child… Continue Reading

25 Questions That Get Kids to Talk About School

25 Questions That Get Kids to Talk About School

What are you looking forward to learning in school tomorrow/this month/this year? Talking to children about school gives us a really wonderful opportunity to discover how our children are doing, adjusting, learning and getting along with peers and teachers. So, has your child shared a special moment about school with you this year? Continue Reading