How To Raise Emotionally Intelligent Children

Most of us remember how a parent or teacher would tell us not to cry when another child or sibling ruined our painting, our tower of blocks, or snatched away our doll or car.

Telling a child to stop expressing their emotion repeatedly becomes an injunction, or directive, which becomes a silent mantra throughout life.

In order to raise our children as emotionally intelligent we allow them to feel their feelings, we say nothing. We take them into our arms and cuddle them. We invite them to tell us how they feel. We commiserate.

A child who experiences this acceptance of emotional turmoil will grow into an emotionally intelligent child.

Once, I was visiting my daughter’s godmother with my then four year old daughter. She became angry over something and manifested her anger in loud words and kicks against furniture. (Her only outburst that I know of.) I took her to me, and told her it is ok to be angry. A few minutes later, I said to her that anger is understandable and OK but it is how it is expressed that matters.

My daughter’s godmother was someone I had to guard my daughter from in her early years. A longtime friend, I had asked her opinion on “godparents”. I meant what value they brought. She took it as an invitation and responded that she would love to be my yet to be born child’s godmother. I was too taken aback at the time to reply but my husband felt it was a good idea, so it transpired. She would start to rebuke my well behaved daughter in a restaurant if my daughter asked for more from the dish on the table which she had asked to try. I would quickly intervene, saying of course she could as she had only had a small amount to taste and therefore was welcome to more.

That friend was and is still without a child of her own. I am relieved. She was either overly indulgent or terribly mean. She had gone to boarding school, and I guess that together with bad parenting caused her quick temper with anyone. Even a child.

Children experience many emotions that they have no language to express. Disappointment, loss, frustration, bewilderment, anger, jealousy etc. By taking the child into our arms and giving them space to tell us what happened, we allow them to recognise and identify their feelings over time as they grow older. This is vital if we want our child to adapt well to school and life in general.

I have lost count of my children’s friends who came to our home and spewed injunctions all over the place. Some of them I drove home early.

One little girl was a second daughter whose mother had gone to university and started to date after she was born. Her longing for her mother was palpable and I sometimes invited her to talk about it. More commonly though, this little girl would manipulate or express extreme anger. I did my best in a difficult situation, but often she was driven home if her older sister was there.

My daughter was not particularly close to that little girl so, fortunately, these scenarios were few.

The first three years of a child’s life are when they are formed as personality. A good person or a sociopath are made in these years, and everything in between. It is helpful to learn your children’s love languages, as described by Dr. Gary Chapman. They are;

  • quality time
  • words of affirmation
  • receiving gifts
  • acts of service
  • physical touch

Every child has two more of these. Learn which matter most to your child, but use all of them. Then, if your child has a difficult day, or is unwell, you will be able to make them feel your love quickly and they will recover sooner.

So, we see the importance of giving space in a cuddle or hug to ask what happened and say what they feel about it as best they can. Reflect back what you hear without interrupting. The child will feel accepted and understood. We see also that “don’t” does not belong in any conversation about feelings.

Published in Shelter Me


When someone let’s you down…

We’ve all been let down, right? And it can leave us feeling all range of emotions from slight annoyance to complete devastation.

It tends to leave us feeling unworthy of someone’s time, or lonely, angry, disappointed, and low self esteem.

Don’t let it!! No, the person who let you down, let themselves down much more than you.

Last weekend, I was going to go to the next county with some friends. I arranged to go some of the way by bus, and I fixed with another friend to leave my trolley in the foyer of his flats and be picked up from there by the friends I was going with. The guy with the foyer doesn’t have a phone, so I was to message him on facebook and he would meet my bus.

On the day, I felt a bit tired and out of sorts, so I cancelled with my friends and sent a message to the foyer friend. I kept checking to see if he’d opened it as I did not want him wandering around bus stops. He read it at about 5.30pm and replied ‘OK’. I was a bit puzzled, and replied that I was relieved I had not gone as I would have been stranded with my trolley. His reply was, ‘No harm done.’

‘No? I trust you less. I highly value the trust of my friends’ was my answer.

People who let you down rob themselves. They go down in your esteem, they lose your trust, they may not get a reference. It is nothing to do with you.

In the last year, ever since my sister was dying, people have let me down. While my sister was so desperately ill, I realised how much a vicar had been imposing his will on me and manipulating me. My realisation made me feel ill. With hindsight, his control of me is frightening. I had to get him out of my life. It has been so much better. He caused me anxiety, made me feel guilty, almost like an abusive marriage.

Others have let me down and they are people I need to continue to relate to. The dynamics don’t need to change that much if you both have the emotional literacy to talk about it. If that is not there, one just has be patient and hopeful that they can realise the hurt they caused. I have someone who was supposed to come to me for a holiday. She has let me down. I am related to her and love her, but need to wait for her to realise.

My biggest disappointment this year was Mike Ebsworth. He has always known my health was poor. To tell me I had set my sights on him to be my cleaner, cook, and nurse. He let himself down for thinking that’s all I wanted him for, when I had fallen in love him when he came back to see me, and me, for not being honest with himself.