I am a highly emotional person. It can be exhausting. A few years ago my husband and I had to make a truly difficult decision. We knew it was the best thing for our family but it might hurt some people in our lives. I felt sad and guilty. I kept on rethinking my decision. I said to my husband, “I know it is the right thing, but I feel so bad! Don’t you feel bad about it? I can’t stop second-guessing myself.” He said, “I feel bad, but I know we made the right decision and that is that. I don’t need to think about it anymore.” I looked at him in awe and wonder, “That is it- you can just turn off your emotions just like that? Can I borrow your brain until this is all over?”
I am constantly working on controlling my emotions. They often overwhelm me. It is tough for me to make decisions. I have learned that in order to gain clarity, I need to recognize that I have many feelings at once, (most humans do) and I need to name the feelings (empathize with myself) that I am experiencing. This can help me gain control of my thoughts and ultimately allow me to solve my big and little problems.
Being able to do this is one of the ingredients of developing my skills in the area of emotional intelligence.
So when my son has a temper tantrum and I lose my patience with him, instead of using all the wonderful skills that I teach and preach, I can feel the following:
* Annoyed at him for having the tantrum in the first place
* Guilty because I yelled
* Embarrassed for losing it
* Tired from having to deal with the tantrum
I can then empathize with myself , “ I am annoyed, guilty, embarrassed and tired.”
It is only then that I have the ability to objectively assess the situation. I can then figure out if I can let the situation go, apologize, mete out a consequence or offer this child some empathy.
Children and teens also may have trouble managing all their different emotions. They have a hard time because they feel things strongly and their feelings can be so overwhelming. Temper tantrums, bad moods, slammed doors and arguments can result.
We can help them recognize that having conflicting emotions is normal (kids and adults are not so different, see above!) and we can aid them in recognizing and naming their feelings in appropriate ways.
Children feel relieved when they understand that they can have contradictory emotions. This can help reduce negative behavior. It allows children to think independently, foster resilience, and improves their problem-solving skills. It broadens their knowledge of emotions and increases their vocabulary of feeling words. This helps them become aware of their feelings and the feelings of others, an important skill that develops and expands on their ability to empathize. The ability to empathize is one of the vital characteristic traits found in emotionally intelligent people.
Here are some typical scripts you can use to introduce your children and teens to the concept of having more than one feeling at once.
“You might have 2 feeling about the new baby. Sometimes you will be happy to have a new baby in the house. It can be fun and exciting. Sometimes it will be very busy and overwhelming. If you get sad just let me know, say, ‘Daddy I need attention’…”
“New babies can be exciting and fun. They can also be a lot of work. Just make sure to let me know when you need a break.”
TROUBLE WITH FRIENDS:
“You like to play with Eli but sometimes you get annoyed because he likes to be in charge of what games you play .”
“You sound angry and hurt. Sara is studying with another friend tonight when the two of you usually study for your math test together.”
PROBLEMS AT SCHOOL:
“You sound confused and frustrated. You did not know that you were supposed to share your candy at the party!”
“Your teacher yelled at you in front of everyone. That can be so embarrassing and hurtful. You probably didn’t even know how to react!”
Children are grateful when someone names and gives order to the confusing feelings of their inner world. They feel validated and have more confidence to manage their emotions. Acknowledging your children’s feelings increases your child’s emotional intelligence and helps build positive communication patterns and creates a warm and calm family environment.
Want to learn more great ways to help your child develop their emotional intelligence?
Come and join our newest Tele-Seminar:
Emotional IQ: Empowering Our Kids To Be Emotionally Smarter