What is emotional intelligence?
“Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically” (1). In a move away from the concept of intelligence being IQ towards a model of individual differences in intelligence Howard Gardner in 1983 suggested there are multiple intelligences, when he outlined inter and intrapersonal intelligence now is better known as emotional and social intelligence. Since then emotional intelligence has become the front runner in attributes attributed to success in adults.
Why is it beneficial?
- When a toddler or child has emotional intelligence, they are less prone to tantrums.”
- Emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success” in adults (1)
- When Toddlers have emotional intelligence, they will quickly be able to make bonds with other toddlers.
- Children will develop the capacity for empathy.
- Emotional intelligence reduces sibling rivalry.
How can I cultivate it in my baby and toddler?
- Using Mind-minded language – From birth attribute language to their sounds and focus.
- Giving your child permission to experience their emotions – They are human after all. Rather than simply ignoring, getting angry or embarrassed offer compassion and tell them you understand why they feel that way. Let it pass and then talk about what may help in the future. Even if they are too young to talk, they will become accustomed to it, and you will become accustomed to feeling calm in the situations.
- Offer names for the emotions they are experiences both positive and negative.
- Request forgiveness when you show your child anger and explain where it came from and how it may be prevented in the future. Toddlers are encouraged by approval and will seek it out in preference.
- Use a mindful approach to parenting where you offer understanding when they express their emotions, and when it has passed you discuss the experience.
(1) Powered by OxfordDictionaries · © Oxford University Press
(2) Elizabeth Kirk, Karen Pine, Lisa Wheatley, Neil Howlett, Joerg Schulz, Ben C Fletcher. (2015) A longitudinal investigation of the relationship between maternal mind-mindedness and theory of mind. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, DOI: 10.1111/bjdp.12104