How to Increase Emotional Intelligence in Your Child

Recent studies have shown that emotional intelligence can be almost as important as IQ in predicting a person’s success in life. The good news is that while traditional IQ it is thought to be consistent and stable throughout a person’s lifespan, emotional intelligence can be taught. In fact, as a child counselor I am seeing a trend of emotional difficulties as free play is being eliminated from our children’s schedule. Read 5 tips on how to facilitate emotional intelligence in your child.

1.     Playing board games is one of the best things you can do to help your child learn important life lessons. Board games consist of turn taking, learning to win and lose, following rules, and coping with disappointments. As parents, we often want to protect our children from any difficulties or disappointments in life to the point that many children are losing problem solving skills and are unable to cope with life’s disappointments. To help identify emotions further and facilitate conversations, you can adapt any game to a feelings game. It is common for me to play “emotions Candy Land” or “emotions Uno” in the counseling room. Decide what emotion each color represents and have your child describe a time the felt that emotion when they land on the color square or play the card.

2.     Table Topics cards, as seen here, https://www.amazon.com/TABLETOPICS-Family-Questions-Start-Conversations/dp/B000FFET52, are great ways to start conversations, discuss values, and talk about emotions. These are great activities to do at meal time and kids can be much more responsive than asking the typical question of, “how was your day?”

3.     One of my favorite activities to do is Self-Esteem Jenga, https://www.amazon.com/Totika-Self-Esteem-Game-Communication/dp/B000JVWPL2. It is a great way to mix games with building self-esteem. Resiliency based counseling believes that each person is capable of solving their own problems. Self-esteem activities can help your child recognize their own strengths.

4.     Perspective taking is something you can teach starting in the preschool ages and continuing through adulthood. Start in preschool by asking questions in books such as, “how do you think that character feels and why?” Try teaching your child to consider how their actions impact other people’s feelings. Questions such as “was that expected or unexpected for you to act that way?” can help with perspective taking. This can continue throughout adolescents when watching movies and television shows. Try taking another person or character’s perspective and come up with arguments for why they are right or wrong. This teaches perspective taking and flexible thinking.

5.     My favorite thing to do as a counselor is to improve communication. You can start at a young age to teach how to express feelings. Instead of your child calling you “mean” or “I hate you,” calmly let them know that you care how they feel, but they have to express it the right way. Use “I statements” as a way to express emotions. “ I feel _____ because ______. So instead of “I hate you because you didn’t let me eat ice cream” your child could say “I am disappointment because I was unable to eat what I wanted.” Their feelings matter, and they are able to express them in a healthy way. For young children having a meltdown, you can start the process by asking, “can you tell me with words what emotion you are feeling.” Always validate the emotion, but not necessarily the negative behavior.

For more information on increasing emotional intelligence, social skills, or emotional regulation, feel free to contact me for a consultation at, AmyRollo@HeightsFamilyCounseling.com. We love working with the entire family to promote healthier relationships and interactions.

Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting www.heightsfamilycounseling.com