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1. Say what you feel
‘Emotional intelligence is about asking yourself: “What’s going on here: what am I feeling and why might I be feeling like this?” says coach and author Gill Hasson. Teach your child to talk honestly about their feelings from an early age. Encourage them to express, ‘I feel angry’, ‘I am sad’ or ‘I wish I had that toy’ so they learn to recognise, accept and articulate their emotions without guilt. The way you react is important, too. Don’t pass judgement; allow them to feel whatever they feel.
2. Don’t forget to breathe
‘Breathing can change the way you feel almost instantly, and it’s impossible to panic when you’re breathing deeply,’ says psychotherapist Jess Henley. Show your child how to practise deep breathing to help calm their nervous system when their emotions escalate. Imagine there’s a place two inches below your belly button and a third of the way into your body. Breathe deeply into that area, making sure the in and out breaths (combined) last at least four to five seconds (eight to 10 in adults).
3. Are you hangry?
‘Hunger and tiredness make everyone more vulnerable to emotions such as anger, frustration and disappointment, and being unwell – mentally or physically – can cause us to become grumpier,’ says Hasson. Remind your child that physiological considerations such as how much sleep we’ve had or what we’ve eaten can affect our moods significantly. When emotions run high, encourage them to consider whether they might need a rest or something to eat.
More information on this research can be found here.