Parenting a child is about providing situations where your child can develop self esteem, confidence, problem solving skills, and intelligence. It is also about giving them opportunities to become self aware and develop emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence really means having an awareness of self, empathy for others, and an ability to regulate your own emotions. But just how do we help our toddlers accomplish this?
Toddlers are notorious for their tantrums. They are emotional and live in the moment. If something upsets them, they will let you know. Loudly. And very often they are unable to calm themselves down. Parents can often feel at a loss as to what to do next. We then try to distract, or pacify, but this does not help build emotional intelligence and the ability to regulate their emotions.
Here are a few quick tips on building emotional intelligence in young children:
- Identify the feelings: The key here is to listen to your child and feedback what you are hearing and seeing . Give them the words they require for the feelings they are having. For example, “You are really frustrated that we had to leave the park…” Whilst you are not changing the situation, you are helping your toddler feel he has been heard and understood.
- Remain calm. Despite the chaos that reigns, your remaining calm will show them that their emotions cannot hurt you or themselves. Remaining calm also models the kind of behaviour you want from them in the future.
- Have, and demonstrate empathy for your child. Try to understand what this must feel like for him and why he may be acting out the way he is. Validate his experience and then model the desired outcome for him. Show him how he can respond in future that may generate a different outcome.
- Above all, be consistent in your approach to your child. When you are predictable and consistent, you are also a safe place from which to explore his emotions.