“It’s all who you know.”
“Networking is the key to successful business.”
“Play nice. Share with the other kids.”
All of these phrases apply to one thing: working with people. Social skills are integral to positive outcomes in both personal and business relationships, so preparing your child now to experience the world positively through his or her emotions is essential.
Development of communication skills begins in early childhood. Children are primed to learn and will absorb whatever habits are demonstrated to them. Learning emotional intelligence skills like empathy, good listening, and assertiveness helps children to grow into happier, healthier, more expressive teenagers and adults who can make sense of their world through emotional understanding.
Model Positive Behavior
Developing the behavior that you seek in your child is as easy as modeling that behavior yourself.
Your kiddo will emulate you, so learning to handle your own emotions is critical to helping your little one learn to handle her’s. If you feel anger, use your words to tell her how you feel: “It makes me very upset when you do that.” Clarifying that it is the behavior that bothers you and not your child on a personal level is essential to maintaining your her sense of worth and self-confidence. Supportive expression of your feelings will give your child a clear picture of how various emotions look, sound, and feel.
Children who observe conflict resolution between parents are also more likely to have a clear sense of emotional truth because they do not fear negative emotions. If you and your partner or family member argue in front of your child, make an effort to resolve the conflict in her presence as well. Statements of forgiveness are particularly important to demonstrate that even difficult conflicts can be resolved.
Turn Conflicts Into Teaching Tools
If your little one is having an issue with another child, create actionable limits and help him move toward a solution. Offering options to an angry child so he or she can express emotions is one way to help her learn productive ways of communicating while still feeling the emotions at hand. Children need to know that, while it is okay to have a negative emotion, it is not okay to harm someone because of the way they feel. Emotions and actions are different things.
You’ll be amazed to see these conflict management skills acted out when your child is older and handles conflicts with poise and clear-thinking.
If you downplay the feelings your child is having, you disempower - and confuse - your young one. A great way to enable your child to experience her feelings while offering alternative solutions is to validate what he or she is experiencing first. “It’s frustrating to miss catching the ball, isn’t it?” By characterizing his feelings as understandable, you allow for free expression and the possibility of moving into more positive territory.
Do Your Own Work
Personal work, that is. By staying in touch with your own emotions and not ignoring them, you get the opportunity to show your child how to manage even difficult and unpleasant feelings. More important still, your child will learn not to fear his or her own emotions.
Emotional intelligence can be learned if modeled to children at an early age. By teaching your little ones to feel both positive and negative feelings and to express anger constructively, you begin to help your child build an emotional foundation that will serve him or her for a lifetime.