Make your kids emotionally smart

Children who understand and manage their emotions get better grades. Emma Kenny, psychological therapist, explains how to raise them that way.

Emotional intelligence helps in every area of children’s lives.

New research shows students who recognise their feelings and understand where they come from achieve more academically, with the ability to better deal with anxiety, boredom and disappointment.

You can help them by learning to take your kids seriously. It can be easy to give your child a treat or distract them with a toy when they are angry and upset, rather than exploring their emotions. Instead, when they express themselves, give them your full attention. Ask them to explain how they feel and reflect what they’ve said to show you understand and hear what they’re saying. If they struggle to describe an emotion, help them label it to increase their emotional vocabulary. You can buy emotion flashcards to help them, as they can’t describe a feeling without a word to explain it. No parent enjoys their kids throwing a tantrum, but try not to meet this behaviour with disapproval or anger, as this can humiliate them. A calm parent is powerful, so wait for the storm to pass. After they’ve worn themselves out, discuss how to use better strategies to express themselves next time they’re frustrated.

Spend 20 minutes every day talking with your child about their feelings and experiences without any distractions and praise them for opening up. The more insightful and self-aware your child is, the more successful their lives will be. Emotionally intelligent children grow into compassionate and kind adults.

Article supplied with permission of Emma Kenny – This Morning resident psychologist, MBPsS, MBACP and Closer magazine columnist