Nurturing emotional intelligence in your child is one of the most important things a parent can do. Experiencing emotions is all part of being human and learning ways to manage emotions and develop coping strategies will serve a child well.
My interest in emotions led me to write and illustrate a picture book for 4-8 year olds. ‘A Box of Butterflies’ which leads the reader on a journey of emotions through the eyes of Ruby and Robot. It is designed to help begin a conversation with your child about emotions.
Here are a few tips to help you encourage emotional intelligence:
- Acknowledging feelings
Show empathy for your child’s feelings. When your child feels understood they will begin to work through their issue rather than let the feeling fester. When they are ready, talk through how it might appear to somebody else.
- Allowing expression
Allow your child to experience different emotions without suppressing them. A range of emotions is all part of being human and bottling them up only leads to a bigger reaction. However, it’s important to let it be known that certain actions (hitting) as a result of strong emotions (anger) are not acceptable.
- Listening to emotions
Allowing your child to talk through how he feels lets the emotion wash over and come out the other side. In my story, I have given each emotion a visual metaphor, “One is green and spiky like a twisted thistle. Jealousy. ‘I sometimes feel that way when my best friend plays with someone else.’” Adding a visual reference to the emotion may bring greater understanding of feelings.
- Coping strategies.
Feelings can seem overwhelming, so coping strategies are vital. Ruby is there for Robot to comfort him with a hug. But there are other things you can try such as having some quiet time alone, a change of scenery or a good cry!
- Using your experiences
You can use your experiences from the past to recall an event when you may have felt a similar emotion and show how you coped with it. There are ways to prevent clinging onto an emotion for too long.
- Lead by example
Children learn from from adults around them. But parents are only human. As parents we should show our emotions – but also how we deal with those emotions.
Jo Rooks is an Author/Illustrator who lives in Morden with her husband and two children. She loves writing stories for children with positive messages and lovable characters. Her debut picture book ‘A Box of Butterflies’ is out now and her second picture book ‘Hector’s Favorite Place’ is out in August 2018 (both books are published by Magination Press).
You can find out more about Jo at www.jorooks.co.uk