By Peg Rosen
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
High school can present challenges for kids with learning and attention issues. That’s true both academically and socially. It’s important that your child be able to self-advocate in those situations. Doing it now is also good practice for life after high school. Here are ways to help your child speak up for her needs.
It’s important to talk to kids with learning and attention issues about their weaknesses. It’s equally vital to remind them of their strengths. Here are tips to help you strike a healthy balance and keep the lines of communication open.
Peg Rosen writes for digital and print, including ParentCenter, WebMD, Parents, Good Housekeeping and Martha Stewart.
Donna Volpitta, Ed.D., is coauthor of The Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive, Parenting.
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