Ten ways parents can be more effective using emotional intelligence

Yetty Williams

Emotional Intelligence is important for parents when it comes to raising their children to become well-rounded individuals. It takes in the characteristics of the child, the family dynamics, parenting style and so much more.

What is Emotional Intelligence 
Emotional intelligence is a concept researchers shared starting in the 1980s and 90s. The argument shared that your general intelligence (IQ) is a measurement of your ability to process information and come to sound decisions; while your emotional intelligence (EQ) is your ability to process both your and others emotions to make sound decisions.

It is the ability to understand, use and manage emotions in positive ways. It means being smarter with feelings and can help intentional parents be more purposeful in their parenting.
Research indicates that increased Emotional Intelligence leads to better health, academic achievement, and stronger relationships! It’s a learnable, measurable and scientifically grounded skill set that helps children.

Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness
Emotional intelligence includes having Self-Awareness and this is critical for parents who want to be intentional and effective parents.

Self-awareness involves understanding yourself and your behaviour when it comes to what you are doing, how you feel about it and what you don’t know.

We can agree that this is a great place to start as an individual, as a building block this then is the foundation on which to build other skillsets. As an intentional parent, you should be self-aware and understand your goals and motivation for the decisions you make for yourself and your family.

Emotional Intelligence and Parenting 
When it comes to parenting and emotional intelligence, there are two groups of parents as it relates to the world of emotions. Emotion Dismissing parents are action-oriented and don’t want to become emotional. In fact, they tend to see being emotional as potentially destructive in themselves and in their children. On the other hand, emotion-coaching parents are the opposite; they accept emotions and explore emotions in themselves and others.

According to research, the children of the two kinds of parents were on totally different life trajectories. Two children with the same IQ starting at age 4 would have entirely different educational achievement at age 8 if their parents had high levels of emotional intelligence.

How to Parent with Emotional Intelligence

1. Help your children with a schedule
Children thrive when it comes to routine and knowing what to expect. Especially during the most recent period of the lockdown, homeschooling and online learning; schedules were probably the first thing to be tossed out. However, a sense of not knowing what is going on can add o anxiety and stress levels. As some of my clients and parents eventually realize, they see how important schedules are for balance and peace. At the end of the day, schedules serve as a guide and help everyone know what to expect and reduce confusion and anxiety.

2. Reduce exposure to negative news and excessive screen time
Some parents have the news channel on 24/7, thereby leading to the home environment being exposed to negative news and images almost all the time. The world does have more negative news ready to be served around the clock. While you need to know what is going on, it does not have to be consumed all the time. This invariably affects everyone’s mood and behaviours.

3. Create your family’s digital well-being plan
24/7 screen time is not healthy. Have screen-free times and put some limits in place. Your children need you to teach them how to be responsible digital citizens. This also includes having the right digital diet. The reality is that excessive consumption of screen time can have negative effects on mental health and mood. If you haven’t already done so, create a family digital well-being plan and let this guide screen time use in your home. Parenting with emotional intelligence requires that you are aware of the effects of screen time on you and your children.

4. Mental Health is a Priority
An Emotional Intelligence hack for parents is to prioritize mental health for the entire family.

Particularly following what has happened during the pandemic. Everywhere you turn there is an update on the number of COVID cases; a new variant or new lockdown measures. I advise parents to help their children focus on what they can control; which is their mind, attitude and actions.
Effective parenting requires relationship and communication.

5. Do not ignore their fears or anxiety
Practice active listening with empathy and take the time to acknowledge your child’s emotions and feelings. Then you can guide them in the right direction or teach them better coping tools. Teach your children that there is no emotion itself that is good or bad. Rather, it is what you do with the emotion that matters and the actions that you take based on your emotions.

Parents can help by having leading conversations, rather than asking one-sided questions such as “how are you?”; you can ask your child “what did you like that happened in school today?” this leads to more conversation.

As parents, we’re faced with a lot of complex feelings including ours and our children’s. While some parents push feelings aside, other parents give feelings too much power. Instead, consider emotions as information. “Oh, that’s interesting. I wonder what this feeling means?” This attitude of curiosity helps us find value and insight from feelings while stepping back from reacting.

6. Quality time
Spend quality time as a family every day! You cannot afford to make being too busy and hustling a sentence that affects your family’s bonding! Spend time praying, talking, having fun, playing board games, have meals together! Make it a priority to spend quality time doing what you enjoy as a family. Additionally, create some family traditions and rituals that encourage bonding.

7. Encourage physical movement!
Exercise releases feel-good hormones. The hormones, Endorphins, also trigger a positive feeling in the body. As a result, family fitness should be a whole family affair and everyone should get moving. Especially if you are still working from home or your children, then it is important for parents as well to get moving and do some form of exercise.

8. Set Goals together
As humans, we want to achieve various things in life. Most people however do not understand the elements of setting SMART goals. These are goals that help you to achieve what you really want. Intentional parents who teach their children the art of setting goals are activating the road to further emotional intelligence. The family can be the best set of accountability partners you can find. This is especially true when you have set goals together that you want to achieve individually and collectively.

9. Sleep
The importance of quality sleep cannot be overemphasized. Everyone needs to get quality sleep, in the right quantity and also ensuring that it is restful. Depending on your age, there is a guide for how much sleep you actually require. Get your children into a bedtime routine, for example, what time do they get off screens? when it comes to digital well-being it is advisable to shutdown screens at least an hour or so before bed. Lack of rest can cause havoc when it comes to emotions and behaviour.

10. Nutrition
The food that you consume has a direct relation to your mental state, physical state and mindset. Healthy balanced diets are important to ensure that you are getting the right nutrients to develop. Emotional Intelligence requires a healthy understanding of your emotions and this cannot be separated from your nutrition. Did you know for example that many digestive problems have an emotional cause at the root of them?

Lastly, according to research, sharing a meal actually protects us from depression, too. There’s plenty of data that supports that the prime reason for depression is a lack of connection. When people feel lonely, isolated and not part of the community; that is a huge trigger for depression. So make mealtimes a family affair and eat mindfully.

Children who are raised by emotionally intelligent parents are better able to navigate complex and stressful situations. Additionally, they are able to have more positive and healthy relationships. These children also are more resilient and have inner peace; as a result of being raised in an enabling environment by emotionally available parents. Lastly, these children tend to have a more positive outlook of the future and go on to be change-makers.

The skills of emotional intelligence are learned over time. Parents are the most important people to teach these life-changing, world-changing skills.

Contributed by Yetty Williams
Parenting Coach | Founder/CEO LagosMums
LagosMums is a parenting and family resource for mums, parents, and caregivers.

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