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Building on strengths

6 Tips for Helping Your Child Build Emotional Intelligence

By Peg Rosen

38Found this helpful
38Found this helpful

Emotional intelligence (EI) allows kids to act on feelings in an effective way. This key ability can help kids with learning and attention issues work through their challenges. Learn ways to help your child build EI.

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Help her be aware of her emotions.

Encourage her to talk about how challenges make her feel. Have her name the emotion (“angry,” “sad,” “jealous”). Then ask her why she feels that way. You can do the same when she has a positive experience. If she remembers to hand in all her homework one week, for example, ask her how that makes her feel and why.

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Practice reading emotions in others.

Watching TV can be a great way to practice this. Turn off the sound and try to guess how characters are feeling. Talk about how body language and facial expressions can be clues.

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Reflect on how she’s reacted in the past.

Take time to look back at specific situations and talk about how she responded. Give her helpful praise if she reacted in a constructive way. For example, maybe she was feeling frustrated with math homework and asked you for help. If she reacted in a way that wasn’t helpful—like throwing her math book on the floor—talk about how she could have reacted differently.

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Come up with new strategies.

Use tough situations as learning opportunities. Talk about what she can do when she’s feeling a certain way or facing a challenge. For example, instead of yelling at her sister, what could she do when her sister plays her music too loud?

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Find opportunities to help others.

Working together to take care of people can help your child build empathy. Join a volunteer effort. Or have her come with you to deliver a care package to a sick relative or friend. You could even consider getting a pet. Having to walk a dog on cold or rainy days can help to remind her that her needs may not always come first.

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Explore options at school and elsewhere.

There may be a program at your child’s school that could help her build emotional skills. Find out if they have a social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum. Or maybe they have a “lunch buddy” program she could join.

Getting outside emotional help is another option to consider. Going to therapy can help kids learn to identify emotions and regulate them. Some therapists also offer social skills groups.

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About the Author

Portrait of Peg Rosen

Peg Rosen writes for digital and print, including ParentCenter, WebMD, Parents, Good Housekeeping and Martha Stewart.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Donna Volpitta

Donna Volpitta, Ed.D., is coauthor of The Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive, Parenting.

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