“Am I an Emotionally Intelligent Parent?”
6 Tips for Moms & Dads to Boost their EQ
Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to one’s ability to understand, process, and manage their emotions in healthy ways. We all want children who are emotionally intelligent – kids that don’t bite your arm when they can’t get their way, teens that don’t sulk in their room instead of talking to you, or adult children that don’t quit their jobs every time a co-worker offends them. But sometimes as parents we have to take a step back and evaluate our own EQ – are we quick to yell, hit, or say things we don’t mean when we feel upset? Are there emotions that we’re ashamed to talk to our kids about?
The truth is, the best way that you can support your child’s emotional intelligence is by building up your own. So how can parents strengthen their EQ?
1. Label your feelings
The first part of emotional intelligence is being able to acknowledge and accept your emotions. You’ll be a lot more effective in working through tough feelings if you understand what you’re dealing with. Take a few moments each day to think about what feelings you are experiencing, whether they are good, bad, or somewhere in between.
2. Don’t judge yourself
Parents often judge themselves for feeling stressed, depressed, or angry. However, difficult feelings can be an opportunity to teach emotional management. When you are feeling at your wit’s end, don’t beat yourself up over it. The way you handle troubling emotions can teach your children how to manage difficult feelings in healthy ways. Acknowledging your feelings without judgement shows your children that there are no emotions that are too shameful to talk about.
Example: “I’m feeling really anxious about work today. I am going to go for a jog to help me release some stress.”
3. Consider your kid’s perspective
You probably don’t remember the first time you got a brain freeze from a popsicle, but can you imagine the horror you must have felt not knowing what that paralyzing shock was? Now that you’re an adult, you know that brain freezes, though unpleasant, are not the end of the world. Big emotions, such as anger, jealousy, pain, and grief can feel like a “first brain freeze,” to children. So the next time you’re about to “cancel Christmas if they don’t stop screaming,” remember that things that don’t feel big to you often feel like a very big deal to them.
4. Express empathy
Whether your child is expressing joy, frustration, or anything in between, show them that you understand. An emotionally intelligent parent focuses more on discussing their child’s feelings rather than criticizing their behaviors.
Example of focusing on child’s behavior:
“Stop whining about how stressed you are – you were the one who wanted to sign up for both dance and soccer.”
Example of focusing on child’s feelings (emotionally intelligent):
“I get it. It can feel overwhelming to have a big game and recital in the same week. That would make me feel stressed too. Let’s think of some ways we can help you get through this.”
5. Prioritize quality time
Parents today are pulled a million directions with tons of distractions. Driving to different activities, working, and managing a household can really put a damper on family time. Make sure to set time aside each day to talk to your children about how they are feeling, and make sure to express your feelings as well. No tv, no phones, just time to check in to show them that you care and are there to talk to.
6. Easy on the impulse
As parents, we have no patience for other people cursing, scolding, or putting their hands on our children. Yet when our kids are driving us up a wall, we tend to let these rules slide for ourselves. Tighten the reigns on your impulses by walking away for a few minutes when you’re about to lose your cool. If you feel like you’re about to snap, close your eyes and focus on taking some slow, deep breaths before you respond. Practice mindfulness exercises such as meditation or yoga to reduce stress and keep your thinking in the present.
7. Cultivate compassion
There are lots of meaningful ways that you can foster compassion in your family. Volunteer together at a soup kitchen, share responsibility for taking care of a pet, and talk about how others might feel in difficult situations.
Example: “There’s a new woman at my work. I think she might feel a little nervous about starting a new job, so I’m going to invite her to lunch to make her feel welcome.”
8. See a Specialist
Parenting isn’t easy, and it can be tough to manage all of your family’s needs while taking care of your own emotional health. If stress or depression is making it difficult for you to strengthen your EQ, our specialists at Variations Psychology can help.
Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D., is a Child and Educational Psychologist. Dr. Shinn can evaluate your family’s emotional health and provide tools to strengthen emotional management and communication between parents, teens, and children.
Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D. specializes in supporting men and teen boys through life’s transitions. Men often struggle with knowing how to express their emotions in healthy ways which can be difficult for themselves and their families. Dr. Sample provides a comfortable place for men to overcome obstacles and gain tools for leading successful and fulfilling lives.
Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D., is an expert in women's family issues. Whether it be parenting challenges, marriage problems, caregiver stress, life after divorce, depression, or anxiety, Dr. Davis supports women in growing their emotional intelligence and living empowered lives.
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Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.
Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).
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Eanes, R. (2017). Become an Emotionally Intelligent Parent. Creative Child. Retrieved online: http://www.creativechild.com/articles/view/become-an-emotionally-intelligent-parent/1#page_title
Eldemire, A. (2016). 3 Do’s and Don’ts for Raising Emotionally Intelligent Kids. The Gottman Relationship Blog. The Gottman Institute. Retrieved online: https://www.gottman.com/blog/3-dos-donts-raising-emotionally-intelligent-kids/
Grose, Michael (2015). What it means to be an emotionally intelligent parent. Parentingideasclub.com.au