Teaching your children to master their emotions is one of the best gifts you can give them. Emotional intelligence is a far more reliable predictor of fulfilling achievement, balance, and contentment in life than either intellectual intelligence or material advantage.
Of course, one of the best ways of teaching, and one of the hardest, is by example. If you’re able to show your child how you use your emotions – the pleasant and unpleasant ones – to inform your life, but how you are also able to choose how you respond to them, giving yourself space to consider both the long and the short-term effects of a possible reaction, you will be providing a wonderful behavioural model.
However, sometimes you may need to go one step further, and put in some active teaching as well. After all, there are going to be times when your role-modeling is less than perfect! And, most children need help learning how to identify the nuances of their emotions. Talking through your own feelings, and how they serve to guide you in your life choices, when you’ve had to rein them in so as to give yourself time for contemplation, when it’s helped to share them with others, will be invaluable to your children. Also talking through your children’s emotions; empathising and accepting how they feel, pinpointing exactly why they feel the way they do, working out strategies to cope better next time in a similar situation.
Because the one thing that we can rely on in life is change – in our work and home environments, in our social lives – and, because the rate of change is increasing, our children need to be able to find their own sense of inner security, when the world around them may feel unstable. And, the most reliable way for them to do this, is to have a real mastery over their emotions.