Emotional intelligence in children

Emotional Intelligence in Children: What it is and How to Increase It

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and understand our own emotions and those of others, enabling us to respond appropriately in any given situation. It's what makes some individuals more successful than others.

It's not just about being able to identify your own emotions but also being able to manage them so that you can think clearly, solve problems, and empathise with others.

There are various ways of measuring emotional intelligence in adults, but assessing children isn't as easy. However, several signs indicate whether a child has good emotional intelligence or not.

This article aims to provide detailed information regarding emotional intelligence in children, why it's essential, ways to increase it if it's low and how you can coach emotions in 5 steps.


What are emotions and the purpose they serve


Emotions play a crucial role in learning, decision making, learning and relationships. They can help us make better decisions, problem solve, avoid conflict, and manage conflicts better.

Emotions play an important role in decision making. For example, when we feel afraid of something, this is a helpful emotion that makes us avoid situations that might harm us. Many researchers believe that emotions evolved as a way for us to make decisions quickly in 'life-or-death' situations.

Even though emotions might have been helpful during our early years of survival, they often turn into non-beneficial feelings when it comes to making decisions in our adult lives.

That's why we need to learn to manage our emotions better.

What is Emotional Intelligence in Children?


Emotional intelligence in children is the ability to recognise, understand and manage their own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

It's the ability to respond appropriately in any given situation, enabling one to think clearly, solve problems and empathise with others.

Children who have high emotional intelligence are able to recognise their own emotions and are able to identify the emotions of others. They can also actively manage their feelings so that they can think clearly.

These children understand the importance of emotions and know how to use them to their advantage. They can use their emotions as a source of creativity and are able to motivate themselves to achieve their goals.


Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?


Many of us, if we are completely honest with ourselves, have experienced the roller coaster of emotions at some point in our lives. Emotions are powerful and can be significant assets, but they can also be detrimental to us.

These feelings will inevitably rise and fall during our lives. Still, there are ways to deal with them healthily that will make us more successful and help us build stronger relationships with others.

If you can identify and manage your own emotions, you'll be better able to focus and perform at your best. You'll also be able to empathise with others and resolve conflicts effectively.

It's important to teach children how to manage their emotions correctly and to do so early on in life. If your child doesn't learn these skills, they will struggle to manage their emotions throughout their whole lifetime.


Unhelpful ways in which parents respond to their children's emotions


Parents and guardians are their child's first and most influential role models. They are the sole people who shape their child's view of the world and how they should respond to certain situations.

If your child sees you repressing your emotions, they will learn to do the same.

A child who is often repressed and doesn't express their emotions won't be able to recognise them and will struggle to understand other people's feelings as they grow older.

When parents ignore their child's emotions, they won't learn what they're feeling and might repress them as they get older.

If you escalate or find it difficult to remain calm or tell your child to 'stop being silly' when expressing their feelings and emotions, they won't learn how to appropriately manage them.


The five steps to emotion coaching

 A woman holding a young girl's hands teaching emotional intelligence

These five steps can help you coach your child's emotions and can also be applied to your own emotions to help you manage them more effectively.

You can do this when your child is experiencing an emotion that is disruptive to their day-to-day life.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to emotion coaching. However, here are five steps that can help you begin this journey:


  1. Start by setting clear boundaries and expectations. This will help you and your child understand what is and is not acceptable behaviour.
  1. Listen actively and non-judgementally to your child's emotions. This shows them that you care about what they are feeling and are willing to listen. 
  1. Validate your child's feelings by acknowledging their importance and legitimacy. You can do this by saying, ' I know this must be difficult for you.'
  1. Ask questions encouraging reflection and understanding of the situation from your child's perspective.This will help them see things from a different perspective and gain a deeper understanding of their emotions.
  1. Facilitate problem-solving together so that your child feels both heard and empowered to make changes in their life




Emotional intelligence in children is the ability to recognise, understand and manage their own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

It's the ability to respond appropriately in any given situation, enabling one to think clearly, solve problems and empathise with others.

Recognising and understanding your own emotions and those of others is crucial for success in life.

The better you become at managing your emotions overall, the better you will be at leading a healthy and happy life.


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