Out of everything we can teach our children, the hardest thing to teach isn’t necessarily reading, writing, or arithmetic, but emotional intelligence. Having emotional intelligence definitely isn’t a skill that can come all at once (or ever if we look at some adults), but it is something that has to be taught from a young age and nurtured throughout our children’s lives.
Alyssa Blask Campbell, a parenting and emotional development expert with a masters degree in early childhood education says in an article she wrote for CNBC that she and co-contributor Lauren Stauble, assistant professor of early childhood education at Bunker Hill Community College and co-author of Tiny Humans, Big Emotions hear the same question all the time when it comes to working with parents.
“How do we raise emotionally intelligent kids?”
Their answer? “Kids with high emotional intelligence have the tools they need to navigate their feelings and relationships in a healthy and secure way. Key components include self-awareness, self-regulation and motivation,” they said in the article.
However, surprisingly, the most overlooked tool is empathy, they said.
There are four empathy skills parents of children with high emotional intelligence teach their children starting from a young age, they said. Parents teach these highly emotionally intelligent children how to take on other perspectives, how to avoid being judgmental, how to recognize emotions, and how to communicate understanding.
But the most important way to teach empathy is to show it yourself, they said.
“Just as we build self-regulation skills by co-regulating with a child, we teach emotional intelligence by responding to children with empathy,” the article noted.
“Connect with your child and imagine what the message underneath their behavior might be. Trust that they are kind humans and allow them to make mistakes,” they said. “When you do this, you teach them that your love for them is unconditional.”
And most importantly, they said to always remember to say “I love you.”
“It’s impossible to spoil kids with love. We promise that you can never say those words too much.”