Your kid has BIG feelings.
Feelings that get out of control sometimes.
Feelings that you don’t understand at all.
You may have been taught that the best way to deal with those feelings is to tell your kid to calm down. Stop shouting. Go to timeout!
But that’s missing a fantastic opportunity to teach emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence expert Brittney-Nichole Connor-Savarda helps parents raise emotional intelligent kids.
These are kids who can put a name to what they’re feeling, communicate those feelings in an open and respectful way, and understand what other people are feeling.
If you want your child to be a leader, to make the right decisions, and to feel strong and confident in themselves, then emotional intelligence is a must.
But how can parents teach emotional intelligence when it wasn’t part of our curriculum growing up?
That’s where Brittney-Nichole comes in.
You’re about to learn the difference between EQ vs IQ, why we’re in the midst of an EQ deficiency, and why emotional intelligence is so important.
You’ll also find out what to do when your kid gets upset, how to handle temper tantrums, the value of apologizing to your kids, and the lifelong benefits of parenting with emotional intelligence.
What You’ll Learn
Science journalist Daniel Goleman popularized the term emotional intelligence in his 1995 book of the same name.
Goleman identified the elements of emotional intelligence as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation, and social skills.
But emotional intelligence expert Brittney-Nichole Connor-Savarda goes one step further.
She believes that emotional intelligence also includes heart and soul.
“If we don’t put our heart and soul into it,” she says, “none of those [other elements of emotional intelligence] are going to stick.”
Why We Need EQ
Companies are increasingly valuing EQ skills, after research has shown that employees with an average IQ but a high EQ outperform those with just a high IQ 80% of the time.
How does EQ boost performance?
IQ, or cognitive intelligence, is a function of the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
“When we’re stressed—when we’re experiencing big emotions like frustration, overwhelm, burnout—our rational brain checks out.”
Which is why even the smartest people can make bad decisions. Their emotions hijack their reason.
“You can’t utilize your IQ if you don’t know how to control and manage your EQ,” Brittney-Nichole says.
And the best time to learn those emotional intelligence skills is when you’re young.
Teaching Emotional Intelligence
Schools do a great job teaching IQ, but teaching EQ really comes down to the parents.
Many parents have no idea how to teach EQ, because they weren’t taught it themselves.
Although it’s tempting to think that our parents and past generations had a better handle on EQ, because they had better manners and weren’t spending so much time on devices, the research shows otherwise.
Joshua Freedman, CEO of Six Seconds, has found in his research that people across the board are at about the same level of emotional intelligence—a pretty low level.
What looks like emotional intelligence in older generations is actually social scripts.
These social scripts tell people “how to act, how to behave, what to say, what not to say, what to feel, what not to feel.”
But there is little self-awareness underneath those behaviors.
You can be taught to act in a certain way without understanding your own motivation or other people’s feelings.
“In order to be emotionally intelligent, we have to be aware of who we really are, what we want, what we’re feeling, and be able to disconnect from all of those social scripts that really are not serving us,” Brittney-Nichole says.
It’s not easy…
But we can’t help our kids learn to be emotionally intelligent if we don’t practice it ourselves.
And that often means parenting in a very different way to how we were raised.
How Parents Can Help Their Kids Learn EQ
“What I tell every parent is you have to have compassion, and not just for your child, but for yourself,” Brittney-Nichole says.
When you’re learning these skills yourself, you make mistakes. You’re not perfect. You’re trying to teach something you’ve never been taught.
One of the first steps you can take is to teach your kids “to become friends with their emotions. See them as teachers, even the unpleasant ones.”
If you weren’t allowed to express frustration or anger growing up, or if you learned that negative emotions were something to “fix” so you can get back to being happy, this can be a huge shift.
Brittney-Nichole urges us to get comfortable with negative emotions, “because they’re sending information to us. They’re trying to tell us … that something’s not right, and we need to pay attention to that.”
Of course you want your child to be happy all the time—every parent does!—but that’s not realistic.
“Happiness is an emotion,” Brittney-Nichole explains. “It’s not a state of being.”
What you want is for negative emotions to pass through your child, rather than stick around and cause problems.
The best way to do that is to acknowledge and validate whatever it is that your child is feeling.
You might say something like:
Wow, I see that you’re feeling this really strong, unpleasant emotion. Let’s figure out what it’s telling us, so we can process that emotion, get over it, and then get into a more productive state, so we can feel content, secure, strong, and confident.”
But if you’re not doing that with your OWN emotions, your kids will catch on pretty fast that it’s a matter of “do as I say, not as I do.”
What do you do when you get upset?
You’re not always going to have the presence of mind to acknowledge and honor your feelings instead of reacting, but if you do find yourself reacting and blowing up, use it as an opportunity to teach repair.
Own your behavior in front of your child. Let your child know that you shouldn’t have done that, you feel terrible, this is what you were feeling, and apologize. Then work to do better.
Few of us learned how to do this from our parents. Older generations often believed that adults never have to apologize to children.
But you can do it differently.
You have to… if you want to raise a child with the emotional intelligence skills to succeed in this changing world.
Big Emotions, Big Behaviors
It’s one thing to let your kid express how they’re feeling.
It’s quite another to let your kid have a temper tantrum!
This is where an understanding of “ages and stages” comes in.
If your child is at the toddler stage, expecting them to be able to hold their emotions in is unrealistic.
Toddlers don’t have control over their emotions. Whatever they’re feeling just comes out.
“What so many parents want to do is put a lid on that pressure cooker when the steam is just shooting out of it,” Brittney-Nichole explains.
But those emotions need to go somewhere. “It does more harm than good when we try to suppress it.”
How would it feel to allow your child to just “let it out,” as long as they’re being safe and not hurting others?
You can create a safe container for your child by giving them choices. You might say:
I see you’re feeling this really strong emotion right now. Do you want to scream it out into a pillow, or do you want to stomp it out?”
You’re giving your child ways to release that negative energy without shaming them or blaming them for having difficult feelings they can’t control.
If you’d like some ideas and activities to teach your child how to develop appropriate EQ for their age and stage, Brittney-Nichole recommends these resources:
The EQ Deficiency
It feels like we’re living in a world where emotional intelligence is in short supply. Why?
Is it the internet? Is it our devices? Is it politics? Is it our culture?
Brittney-Nichole tackles this question in her book The EQ Deficiency. Its subtitle: How emotional intelligence and compassion can cure an emotional pandemic, solve our “people problems,” and be a catalyst for positive change.
If you’d like to dive straight into Brittney-Nichole’s teachings for parents, head on over to YouTube and watch her Parenting with Emotional Intelligence series.
The series, which airs every other Wednesday, tackles topics like how to calm your child when they’re angry, how to keep a child from hitting, and how to teach your child to self-soothe.
On her website Generation EQ, she is starting a Generation EQ Parents Club, which offers monthly online sessions as well as occasional in-person meet-and-greets in the Charlotte area.
Brittney-Nichole also offers private family sessions if you’d like one-one one support.
Emotional intelligence is the foundation for success. And it’s up to us to lead the way.
Brittney-Nichole Connor-Savarda, founder of Catalyst 4 Change LLC and Generation EQ, is an authority on emotional intelligence and human behavior and lives her purpose as a catalyst for change. Brittney-Nichole earned her degrees in education and psychology, is a certified coach, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner, and HeartMath trainer. She’s the author of The EQ Deficiency.