Raise your emotional intelligence, raise your parenting abilities

How to use the top five characteristics of emotional intelligence to improve your parenting skills

“We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think, and feel.” – Marshall B. Rosenberg.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognise and stay in control of your emotions as well as your children’s emotions. Emotional intelligence is directly linked to your parenting style, e.g. authoritarian, permissive, authoritative, etc. When you increase your EI, you’re more inclined to communicate more effectively and become an authoritative parent with a strong, positive relationship with your children.

EI in parenting involves using empathy, social skills, self-regulation, self-awareness and motivation, all of which can be learned. This is good news because it means that you can always learn a different way of doing things. After all, someone needs to hold it together when your child is throwing a tantrum!

Let’s examine the five aspects of EI in greater depth:

  1. Self-awareness

When you are a self-aware parent, you are in touch with your emotions and understand how they affect the people around you. Self-awareness extends beyond knowing your current emotional state. It also means you appreciate your ego and have a strong awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, working with them to be the best possible parent you can.

Becoming more self-aware is a constant journey. It doesn’t matter how much I learn about myself, I’m always discovering new things. It involves making a conscious choice to observe yourself, both the positive and the negative, and deciding how you want to act in any given situation.

The first step to becoming more self-aware is to take a breath before making any decision. Don’t react immediately when your child does something. Take a beat to process what’s going on and think critically about your options. Make sure your reaction is reasonable and fair rather than fuelled by emotion.

  1. Self-regulation

When you were a child, what did you want from your parents? You needed them to model good behaviour by being in control of their emotions rather than blindly lashing out. You needed them to embody their ethics and beliefs. You needed them to be accountable for what they said and did.

Regardless of whether that’s what your parents were like or not, isn’t that the kind of parent you would like to be? When you are capable of staying calm in the face of provocation, your child is reassured that you’ll always be there for them and it gives them the motivation to make better choices. When you show them how you’d like them to behave rather than simply telling them, it makes it easier for them to follow your example.

When you are consistently calm with your child, no matter what the circumstance, it helps improve their wellbeing and mental health.

  1. Motivation

Motivation comes from knowing what you want to do and why. This level of self-awareness might be difficult for a child to attain, but the more they see you understanding your own motives, the more inspired they are to follow your lead – or at least feel motivated to try their best.

Knowing your ‘why’ involves a high level of self-reflection, which, as we’ve already seen, is part of having a high EI. When you are motivated, you want the best for your child and family and you work towards creating a positive family dynamic in a consistent way. If you have high EI, you know what makes your child tick so you can incentivise and motivate them to be their best selves.

  1. Empathy

When you are an empathetic parent, you are able to put yourself in your child’s position to understand their thoughts and feelings. This means you can support your child through whatever difficulties they may be facing and be a good listener when they need to talk about their problems. An empathetic parent builds strong family relationships founded in love, loyalty and respect.

Between 70-93% of all communication is nonverbal, coming from body language and other cues. The way your child behaves gives you a wealth of information about how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. As an empathetic parent, look to respond to these nonverbal signs. Deal with the emotions behind them. Give your child the chance to talk about the problem or need they have so you can work through them together.

  1. Soft skills

So-called soft skills are crucial when it comes to having a high EI. Soft skills are all about your ability to build an emotional connection through the way you communicate.

A parent with good soft skills can support their child through the good times and the bad. These parents help their child to feel that they have limitless opportunities for growth an improvement. Parents with strong communication skills are also great at resolving sibling rivalries and tackling issues in a diplomatic manner which is appropriate to the situation.

When a child is going through a time of transition, a parent with high EI will show they understand their needs, hopes, and fears.

As a parent, you are in a position of major influence over your children. It is a big responsibility and how you deal with that responsibility is a direct reflection of your EI.

Once you have a strong understanding of your child’s emotions as well as your own, you can support them to develop their own EI to a high degree. Emotional intelligence as a parent isn’t an optional extra. It can make the difference between a happy, healthy family and one which is in a state of constant struggle.

As you raise your EI, you will notice that your family interactions become more positive and you find it easier to take an authoritative approach with your children, supporting and nurturing them to grow into happy, well adjusted adults.