Emotional Intelligence | Day Twenty-Four

Children who are emotionally literate or intelligent are able to identify and understand emotions -- their own as well as others.

Uncomfortable emotions needn't be "stuffed" -- their purpose is to alert us to situations that need to be improved or changed.

"When we don't understand our emotions, we can't cope with them or with the situation effectively, all of which leads to self-doubt and a loss of self-esteem." Christine Carter in her book, Raising Happiness

We can learn a lot from even the most difficult emotions, if we label them, set limits on them, and then work to problem solve around them.

Does that make sense? It's tough stuff, I know.

For example -- if I'm feeling angry with my husband for not being home earlier and helping me more around the house, the best option is not for me to grovel and live in self-pity and anger. The best option is to accept my feelings of frustration and disappointment {label}, figuratively, put these emotions on the counter {set limits}, and then come up with self-talk that will replace these negative feelings with other, more positive emotions {problem solve}.

"I'm upset. I wish my husband understood how I feel about this."
"I need to talk to him about ways he could show more concern for family time and ways he could help me keep things neat."
"I bet he would be enjoy coming home to a happier wife, even if he is late again. He might have had a really stressful day."

Once we begin to understand how to emotionally coach ourselves, we'll be able to teach these important skills to our children.

Children are often unaware of what their friend or sibling is feeling. When we point emotions out to our children, "look, he seems really tired", or "his face looks upset, do you think he is unhappy about that?", we are handing them a helpful tool that they will use for the rest of their lives. We're teaching them to step into another person's shoes and to change their responses based on the other person's body language and facial expressions.

Emotion coaching helps children build positive relationships, now and in the future. 

Christine Carter Ph.D., author of Raising Happiness and director of the Greater Good Science Center, speaks to this in her article about emotion coaching.

Parents need to be sensitive to their child's emotions, listen and accept them, and help their child label, set limits and problem solve. Children WILL have to deal with negative feelings like sadness, disappointment, pain, and frustration. We can't protect our children from these feelings. But we CAN teach them how to cope. How to deal.

And happy children know how to regulate their emotions.

"When we pay close attention and respond to the emotional cues expressed by our children,
they learn to regulate their emotions better." Christine Carter

I am hoping to get my little hands on Dr. Gottman's book, Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children, for even more research on this topic, which he says is the key to raising happy, resilient, and well-adjusted kids. 

And I thought this was a very interesting article on the topic with a great list of feeling words: Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children by Sarah Chana Radcliffe

Click here to read the rest of the posts in the series, 31 Days to Happier Children.