By Ashley Maturo.

Are you sometimes overwhelmed by your child’s feelings? 
Does your child have trouble verbalizing his emotions? 
Do your child’s displays of emotion ever seem like misbehavior to you? 

A better relationship with your child starts with emotional intelligence!

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage emotions.
It is associated with…

  • Increased self-worth and cooperation
  • Improved communication skills
  • Stronger parent-child connection
  • Decreased family conflict
  • Healthy adult relationships

Here are a few strategies to help your child gain emotional intelligence:

1. Spend 20 Minutes Together Every Day

When a child feels more connected to his parent(s), he has an easier time expressing his feelings. An easy route to this connectedness is spending 20 minutes of one-on-one time with your child each day. Spend this time listening to and enjoying your child, without the distractions of chores or technology. This special time of uninterrupted, positive attention will benefit your relationship long-term, and create an environment where your child can openly express his emotions.

2. Use Positive Discipline

When your child is misbehaving, punishment may seem like the best solution in the moment; but it will not be the most effective. Positive discipline eliminates tantrums and increases compliance, without harming self-worth. Children with high self-worth are better at expressing emotions in healthy ways. Try practicing positive discipline with your child by ignoring attention-seeking behavior, instead of lecturing, criticizing or shaming. Then, start praising your child for positive behavior and you will start to see more of it.

3. Listen Reflectively

Reflective listening is recognizing what your child is feeling and inviting her to talk about it. Next time your child is getting overwhelmed by her feelings, say something like, “It sounds like you’re really frustrated with your math teacher.” or “You seem really sad that your brother won’t play with you.” Simple reflections like these tell your child she is understood and help her label her feelings. Labeling feelings is the first step to being able to talk about them.

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