How to Reinforce and Model Emotional Intelligence as a Stressed Parent

Parenting is stressful, even when we're not living in a global pandemic. There are days where you feel like you can't possibly take another thing going wrong, another child arguing, or another event that you're obligated to attend. This is a rollercoaster.

Luckily, we each have emotional intelligence and the ability to teach our children to have emotional intelligence, too.

Emotions happen all day long, so using situations to become aware of them, label them, and teach skills for coping and managing them is where the learning happens. Our children are watching what we say and do and, like mirrors, they will reflect back the social and emotional skills we model.

It is how we choose to face our triggers and tune into our bodies that our children will emulate. Of course, in our children’s dysregulation, it is hard not to follow them there.

Social-emotional learning happens over our whole lifetime; it isn't something that we can do once and never have to do again. Boosting our own emotional intelligence will support your children's social-emotional learning.

As a quick refresher, let's identify what emotional intelligence is.

What is emotional intelligence (EQ)?

Emotional intelligence involves being aware of emotions and identifying them in yourself and those around you. It also includes being able to manage emotions in yourself and others and problem solve from situation to situation.

As I mentioned above, teachable moments unfold in real-time. Did you know that you already have many EQ tools? They live in us as the coping mechanisms we have used, the coping practices we have seen others use, and the desire to be the best we can for our children. By tapping into this, we teach and guide through example.

When our bodies and emotions are calm and regulated, our children will follow. Pausing and using the resources we have help us to meet our children where they are and build upon their strengths.

When you pause in your child's emotional dysregulation ask yourself this:

How can we modify our environment?

Is this a good time to co-regulate?

How can we use mindfulness in small ways that add into, not on to, the day?

Some of my favorite ways to model emotional intelligence are:

  • One breath for me, one breath for you
  • Taking an emotional check-in at dinner time.
  • Narrating how you're taking care of yourself emotionally.

How these questions and tools show up in your home will be unique to you and your family. Every family is different, and so is every moment. Parenting is fluid, and when we embody that, we can hold firm in our boundaries while also validating and connecting with our children.

For some fun Halloween-themed ideas for emotional regulation we collaborated with Generation Mindful on their recent blog post, The Parenting Fairy Godmother Isn't Coming - Here's Why You Don't Need Her.

Together we are following my theme based 12 month Make It Simple, Make It Stick calendar with daily activities that you can use in your home. This month, we’re focused on emotional intelligence!

Do you need more resources? Check out this blog I wrote last year with Four Ways to Boost your Child’s Emotional Intelligence During Simple Daily Activities. 

Check out how you can sprinkle in daily activities to help your child develop the important skills related to building a growth mindset such as being flexible, seeing multiple options, problem solving and shining a light on their strengths!

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