Parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in the world. It's a job that requires us to be constantly learning and adapting. And one of the most important things we can learn is how to be emotionally intelligent parents.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.
It's an essential skill for parents, because it allows us to build strong relationships with our children and help them to develop into emotionally healthy adults.
There are a few key things that emotionally intelligent parents do differently.
First, they focus on understanding their children's perspectives. They try to see things from their children's point of view and to understand what they're feeling.
Second, emotionally intelligent parents are mindful of their own emotions. They know that their own emotions can impact their children's emotions, so they take steps to manage their own anger, frustration, and other negative emotions in a healthy way.
Third, emotionally intelligent parents use "I" statements to communicate with their children. This helps their children to understand how their behaviour is impacting them.
For example, instead of saying "You're being so disrespectful!" a parent might say "I'm feeling hurt by what you just said. Can we talk about it?"
Fifteen years ago, neuroscientists began to identify a new brain region that plays a critical role in emotional intelligence.
This region, called the prefrontal cortex, is responsible for higher-order thinking, such as planning, problem-solving, and decision-making. It's also responsible for regulating our emotions.
Research has shown that the prefrontal cortex continues to develop throughout childhood and adolescence. This means that it's never too late to start teaching our children emotional intelligence skills.
Three phrases parents of emotionally intelligent kids never use
1. "Why can't you be more motivated?"
Parents of emotionally intelligent kids know that it's not helpful to label their kids as "lazy" or "unmotivated." Instead, they try to understand the reasons behind their kids' behaviour.
For example, if your kid is spending too much time playing video games and not enough time on their homework, it could be because they're bored, overwhelmed, or struggling with a specific subject.
Instead of asking "Why can't you be more motivated to study?" you could try asking "What are you enjoying about video games?" or "What can I do to help you with your homework?"
2. "Why don't you listen to me?"
It's normal for kids to not always listen to their parents. But parents of emotionally intelligent kids don't take it personally. They know that kids are still learning how to communicate and regulate their emotions.
Instead of demanding that their kids listen, they try to create a dialogue where both parties feel heard and respected. They might say something like "I'm trying to understand your perspective. Can you help me?" or "It's important to me that we can communicate effectively. Can we try again?"
3. "You are being so disrespectful!"
Parents of emotionally intelligent kids know that kids sometimes say or do things that are disrespectful, but they don't jump to conclusions.
They try to understand why their kids are behaving that way and offer support.
For example, if your kid snaps at you, instead of yelling "You're being so disrespectful!" you could try asking "What's going on? Are you feeling okay?" or "I'm feeling hurt by what you just said. Can we talk about it?"