There are three steps to building emotional intelligence:
1. Help your child learn an emotional vocabulary. In order for kids to be sensitive, they need to be able to read the feelings of others. To do so, they must have an adequate emotional vocabulary.To develop your child's emotional intelligence, teach him feeling words such as in the list that follows. Consider using a different feeling word each day or a new word each week.
An ABC Emotional afraid agitated alarmed angry antsy anxious apprehensive ashamed awful awkward bashful bewildered bitter
Vocabulary bored brave caring calm cautious cheerful comfortable concerned confident confused content critical cross curious cynical depressed delighted disappointed discouraged disgusted distressed disturbed down eager edgy embarrassed encouraged enthused enraged exasperated excited exhausted fatigued fearful fidgety frightened frustrated funny furious glad gloomy greedy grouchy guilty happy hassled hateful helpless hesitant hopeful horrible hostile hysterical hurt impatient indifferent inferior insecure intense irate irked irritated jealous jittery joyous lazy leery lonely loved loving mad mean mischievous miserable moody nervous nice numb overwhelmed panicky patient pessimistic pleased proud puzzled queasy rejected resentful reluctant restless riled ridiculous rushed sad safe scared secure sensitive shaky shy shocked silly sorry sleepy stressed sympathetic surprised suspicious terrified tired troubled unsafe unsettled uncomfortable upset vicious warm weary wonderful worried yucky victorious zany
2. Focus on how other people react. Pointing out the facial expressions, voice tone, posture, and mannerisms of people in different emotional states sensitizes your child to other people's feelings.As occasions arise, explain your concern and share what clues helped you make your feeling assessment:
"Did you see Meghan's face when you were playing today? She looked worried about something. Maybe you should ask her if everything is okay." "Dad was trying to do the bills when you butted in. Did you notice how he slumped in the chair when you told him about the car?"
"Did you notice Grandma's expression when you were talking with her today? I thought she looked puzzled. Maybe she is having trouble hearing.Why not talk a little louder when you speak with her?"
3. Ask frequently, "How does the other person feel?"
One of the easiest ways to nurture your child's sensitivity and increase her empathy is to ask her frequently to "get in their shoes" and ponder how another person really feels. (See also the Role Reversal Game in the Emergency Attitude Rx box.) As opportunities arise, pose the question often, using situations in books,TV, and movies as well as real life—for example:
"When you broke your friend's skateboard, how do you think
"The tornado destroyed most of the town here in Georgia; see it here on the map? How do you think the people he felt?"
Such questions force your child to stop and think about other people's concerns and nurture sensitivity to their needs.
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Although nobody gets a parenting manual or bible in the delivery room, it is our duty as parents to try to make our kids as well rounded, happy and confident as possible. It is a lot easier to bring up great kids than it is to try and fix problems caused by bad parenting, when our kids have become adults. Our children are all individuals - they are not our property but people in their own right.