Nurturing Emotional Intelligence In Children

Did you know that individuals with a high EQ are more likely to succeed than those with a lower one? This demonstrates the importance of improving children's emotional intelligence at a young age.

This doesn’t mean that you neglect their intellectual capability. Rather, it means that EQ should be accorded just as much attention as the former. So, how can you ensure that your children grow up to be emotionally intelligent? Read on to learn more.

What Is Emotional Intelligence in Child Development?

Emotional intelligence is one’s ability to recognize and act on feelings reasonably. The EI phenomenon has been around for centuries. 

However, it first received recognition in 1995 when psychologist and author Daniel Goleman wrote about it in his book; the title is "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.” In the text, Goleman summed up emotional intelligence using five things: self-regulation, empathy, motivation, self-awareness, and social skills. 

While the definition may differ slightly among experts, EI boils down to maintaining awareness and control of your emotions so that you can express them intelligently. But why is EI important in a child’s development? Here’s a list of benefits your child can gain:

Increase in Self-Awareness 

This is the capacity to identify and interpret your feelings. Nurturing EI in your little ones makes them more self-aware. In return, they won’t struggle to establish meaningful relationships with their peers.

Ability to Regulate One’s Emotions 

Youngsters aren’t born understanding how to control or regulate their emotions. As such, it’s the parent’s or guardian’s responsibility to teach them such skills. This ensures that when they encounter hurdles or challenging situations out in the world, they can keep their composure and solve issues amicably.

More Empathic

Another benefit of raising an emotionally intelligent child is that they learn to be more empathic. One of the core principles of EI is empathy, which is the ability to recognize another person’s feelings and, hence, treat them accordingly. 

Like self-control, empathy doesn’t come naturally to kids. In fact, the majority prefer to put their needs first before everyone else’s. To counter this, you should train your child to exercise empathy. This, in turn, improves their social skills by helping them build stronger relationships with their peers.  

How to Improve a Child's Emotional Intelligence

Now that you know the benefits of fostering emotional intelligence in kids, how can you nurture this skill? Here are a few tips:

Acknowledge Your Child’s Feelings and Perspective

When your toddler is angry - particularly when they’re being overly dramatic - it’s tempting to ignore or diminish their feelings. However, dismissing their feelings conveys the message that their feelings are wrong and shameful. 

Instead of neglect, try to validate their feelings and empathize with them. This doesn’t mean that you give in to their demands. Rather, it’s acknowledging that you experience these emotions, too. 

Let’s say your child has broken down into tears because you switched off the video game and asked them to clean their room first. You could say, "I also get irritated when I can't do what I want. It’s hard to keep going to work even when I’m really tired.”

Teach Them Appropriate Ways of Expressing Feelings

Another way to raise an emotionally intelligent child is by training them how to express their feelings. Let them know that just because they’re angry doesn’t mean they can throw a tantrum, yell, or slam the door. 

Instead, teach them the vocabulary to use when they want to express a particular feeling. For instance, they can say, “Kim hurt my feelings when he took the bike before I could finish riding.” Incorporate “feeling” words in your day-to-day conversations. These are words like happy, sad, excited, nervous, and joyous.

Train Your Children Coping Mechanisms

Once your child has mastered how to identify and express their feelings in a socially-appropriate way, the next thing is learning how to cope. 

Unfortunately for kids, it can be difficult to maintain composure when angry or cheer oneself in the face of disappointment. This is why you need to train them on different coping mechanisms. For instance, when they’re enraged, they can take a couple of deep breaths or count up to 10. They can also walk away from the thing or person that’s upset them. 

Alternatively, consider working with your child to create a kit that helps them control their emotions. This could be anything- from a journal to a coloring book, favorite novel, or soothing music playlist. 

Set Aside Time for Emotionally Intelligent Play

Children learn best through play. And yes, this applies to preteens and teens, too. That said, a play session with a five-year-old won’t be the same as one with a fourteen-year-old. 

Far too often, parents are reluctant to play with their kids. In fact, they come up with excuses not to engage in it. Some feel that play is “a waste of time.” Others feel like they’re “not good at it” or “can’t recall how to.” 

But here’s the deal: play provides a splendid opportunity to get into your child’s inner world, including their emotions. It’s a chance to understand your child’s feelings and teach them how to cope with different situations. 

For the little ones, creating real-life scenarios is the best means of emotionally intelligent play. You can perform a “make new friends” scene with their favorite figurines. For older kids, this play happens in different forms, such as sports, board games, or card games. 

Ultimately, it helps you achieve the same goal- gaining a deeper understanding of their emotions. 

Be Quick to Apologize

No matter how hard you try, you won’t always get it right. And that’s totally ok. After all, no one is perfect. What matters is realizing when you make a mistake and apologizing for it. 

In doing so, you’re modeling healthy ways to resolve conflict. In return, your children will also learn how to apologize when they wrong their peers or tutors. 


Nurturing emotional intelligence in kids is a process. It requires parents to not only teach children specific skills but also look within themselves. 

You can engage in emotionally intelligent play and train kids to be empathic. However, if you’re not modeling healthy ways of tackling emotions, then your kids will take after that. In summary, take a deliberate approach to nurturing EI in your kids and model this behavior in your own life. 

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