The Role of Caregivers in the Development of Emotional Intelligence in Children
Emotional intelligence is a term that is cropping up more and more. It refers to an individual’s ability to recognize emotions. This includes their own emotions as well as those of others. It means that an individual is able to label feelings appropriately. Emotionally intelligent people are able to use the information they gather to guide thinking, and behavior. This allows them to manage/adjust emotions in order to achieve their goals. Articles such as this one highlight the many advantages afforded to those who possess emotional intelligence. So, just how does one learn emotional intelligence?
The answer is that we learn from our primary caregivers.
Primary Caregivers such as parents hold the key to the development of emotional intelligence in children.
As you probably already know, the brains of children are constantly developing. This means, that before the age of around 26, an individual’s brain is one big work in progress. Parents are the closest thing a child has to a sculptor for their brain. Through interactions with and observations of their parents, children gather information that change their brain structures and make a lasting impact on how they interact with the world around them.
Two Ways to Help Foster Emotional Intelligence in Your Child:
- This speaks to the principles of Attachment Theory. Really, the foundation for emotional intelligence as well as a generally healthy life is the relationship that the child has with the caregiver. A loving relationship in which the child feels understood, safe, heard, and cared for sets the basis for budding emotional intelligence.
Help Your Child Identify His/Her Feelings
- When your child is having a difficult time it can be stressful for you. It may be less stressful if you perceive their difficult time as a conduit to emotional intelligence. It is helpful to foster emotional intelligence by helping your child to name the feeling they are having. Saying things like “It seems like you might be frustrated” and validating said feeling like “It is normal to feel frustrated when X happens”.
- This lets your child know that it is okay to feel their emotions, that it is important to put a label on them, and that they are being heard and validated.
- Doing this will also help your child to identify their emotions more quickly the next time they happen. As a result, the impact will be shorter, and the amount of dysregulation they feel will be less.
So there you have it, two easy to implement ways to foster emotional intelligence in your child. Try it and see how it works. Drop me a line if you have anything to add or if you have any questions!
Have a great week!