While some kids seem to be born with high EQ, you can nurture it in your child, too. DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON shows you how.
ILLUSTRATION CHENG PUAY KOON
Your child’s IQ (cognitive intelligence) matters because the thinking ability helps her learn new concepts, progress through the education system, get good grades in her exams, and understand the complexities of her world.
But many parents and professionals now consider EQ (emotional intelligence) more important because emotional skills – that is, her awareness of feelings and how she manages them effectively – makes a significant contribution to her happiness.
A child with high EQ has an honest awareness of her moods and is reasonably capable of controlling them; at the same time, she is sensitive to the varying feelings of those around her, whether children or adults.
This raises her sense of well-being and contentment. That’s why many people now think emotional intelligence matters more than cognitive intelligence.
Your kindergartener’s EQ is almost certainly a combination of the sensitivity she was born with, the emotional skills that she learns while growing up, and the interaction between these innate and acquired abilities.
Even though some children seem to be naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, you can help your child develop it. Here are some suggestions:
Encourage your preschooler to express her feelings through words, rather than actions. At this age, her language
skills are not fully developed, and that’s why you may need to give her lots of time and support when engaging her in discussions about emotional topics.
Let your six-year-old know that you want to know what she feels inside, explain that you will help her put her emotions into words, and be patient as she slowly learns to express herself verbally instead of physically.
Create a “listening” environment at home,
one in which your child is able to express her feelings in the full knowledge that she will be listened to.
Encourage her to consider the feelings of her friends and her siblings when she plays with them.
You will nurture EQ by creating an atmosphere at home in which your child knows you will pay attention to her comments about feelings.
Equip her with emotional language
The more words we have to describe something, the more accurately we are able to describe it.
Help your child broaden the vocabulary she uses to describe her feelings – it’s not just a case of her telling you, for example, that she feels sad.
There are dozens of different words that can be used to describe that feeling, such as “down”, “broken- hearted”, “miserable”, and “disappointed”, and each word conveys a different sense and degree of sadness. A broader emotional vocabulary heightens her awareness of feelings.
Help her gain more control over her feelings
For example, if you see that she is happy, ask her how she can keep that positive feeling.
Likewise, if you see she is miserable or angry, ask her to think of what she can do to shed those negative emotions.
The more she thinks about maintaining or changing her feelings, the more she’ll gain control over them. That’s a lot better than letting her believe that her emotions rule her and there is nothing she can do about it.
Create an atmosphere at home in which your child knows you will pay attention to her comments about feelings.