Emotional intelligence is a stronger indicator of future success and satisfaction in life than academic intelligence, so it’s pretty important. it also affects future generations, as parents who are good at emotional intelligence tend to pass on those skills. Not everyone is naturally good at regulating their emotions, or is easily able to intuitively learn it, particularly those with ADHD or ASD.
Emotional self-regulation cannot be taught through constant criticism and punishment. This damages trust and self esteem. Even if the child wishes to change, they may not know how. It takes positive encouragement, explanation and guidance to learn to recognise and express feelings appropriately. When parents accurately recognise and respond to their child’s emotional expression of their needs this builds the child’s self esteem and teaches them that their needs are important. They have confidence and trust in the parent, so are more willing and able to listen to guidance. Ultimately it helps them to learn self care and also to consider others’ feelings, firstly through learning to recognise and relate to feelings via the parent’s reflective strategy and secondly; because their own needs have been met, they have the emotional capacity to cope with another’s needs.
Once the parent has accurately interpreted the child’s expression of feelings, they can help them to find words to describe them. This enable the child to learn the first steps of reciprocal understanding and communication of needs and feelings in a respectful and clear way. One of the challenges of interpreting children’s communication is distinguishing between needs and wants. Is the child having a tantrum because they can’t get what they want in the whim of the moment? Or are they having a meltdown because they are tired and hungry? Parents learn to interpret their individual child’s communications early on. The more skill a parent has in doing this, the better relationship they will have with the child and the more likely the child to learn emotional regulation. Sometimes it’s necessary to look beneath the surface of what is apparently being asked for. What may appear at first glance to be a specific want that becomes an issue for conflict, may in fact be an outer expression of a deeper emotional or physical need or stress. Parents are best able to incorporate these skills in parenting if they have first applied them to themselves and their own emotions.
The key points are:
Recognising own feelings
Learning to communicate feelings verbally
Distinguishing needs and wants
Recognising other’s feelings
Respecting other’s needs and feelings
The next step is in learning to regulate or moderate feelings; expressing them appropriately and managing difficult feelings without suppressing them in an unhealthy way. Even understanding feelings does not in itself guarantee handling them well. It is necessary to develop good habits and ways to self regulate. Some of these may come instinctively, others may need to be learned.
The most significant quality in self regulation and in teaching it is PATIENCE. What is needed to develop this is WILL or INTENT. In turn this is enabled by LOVE and RESPECT for self and others. When the going gets tough, keep these principles in mind. CHANGE and GROWTH is not easy but it is entirely possible. in the end it leads to WISDOM.