Teach your kids to pause
“Kids are impulsive by nature and when unchecked, they can become impulsive adults,” says Aleasa Word, certified emotional intelligence coach, who suggests teaching children to stop and think about how they feel before they act. Explain the importance of taking five seconds to respond to anything, unless it’s an emergency.
“Have mandatory family-talk time,” advises Tom Kersting, licensed psychotherapist and author. “The average parent spends three and a half minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children. Make it a rule for the whole family to sit together for at least 15 minutes per night and, well, talk.”
Accept your child’s emotions
“Feelings are neither right nor wrong—they just are, and everyone is entitled to them, including your child,” says author Harvey Deutschendorf. “Encourage them to express their feelings through questioning. For example, if they look sad and aren’t speaking, you could ask, ‘You look down today; did something happen?’ Never pass judgment or doubt their feelings. For them, their feelings are real and authentic.”
Help your child sort it out
Children of all ages may struggle to put words to the emotions they’re experiencing. “You can help them by suggesting—but never telling them—what they might be feeling,” Deutschendorf says. “You could share your feelings if you experienced a similar situation, thereby encouraging your child to open up and trust you with her feelings.”
Teach empathy through awareness
Talking with your kids about the emotions of others is a great way to build a foundation for developing empathy. “When your child talks about something happening at school to someone else, for instance, ask them to imagine how that person felt.” Deutschendorf says. Don’t forget to demonstrate empathy when talking about it in front of your kids.
Set boundaries on behaviors, not emotions
Never tell your child how they should or shouldn’t feel, but step in if they behave inappropriately. “Separate the behaviors from your child,” says Nechama Finkelstein, licensed clinical social worker. “Your child should always get the message that she is lovable just the way she is even when she needs to increase or decrease specific behaviors.”
Recognize when their feelings are in check
“Acknowledge situations where your child could have let his emotions run amuck, but remained in control. Then praise him for it,” suggests Deutschendorf. “Say, ‘I like the way that you didn’t get frustrated when your little brother kept interfering in your game. I noticed you calmly found something fun for him to do. That was a great way to deal with him. How does that feel?’”
Source: Reader’s Digest