Emotional intelligence—the ability to recognize and manage your and others’ emotions—is key to acquiring complementary soft skills such as team-playing, adaptability, active listening, and happy learning. To help your child develop emotional intelligence, practice mindfulness with them. This means helping them to be present and notice the choices available to them in any given situation to make good decisions. 

Here’s what you can do daily to help your child (and yourself) develop mindfulness and emotional intelligence skills:

  • Take time to just be in the moment. Stop doing, remembering or planning. Sit or lie down somewhere quiet and comfortable, away from devices and other distractions.
  • Ask your child how they are feeling. Make a point of acknowledging their emotions (all feelings are okay) and associated thoughts. This may be an opportunity to identify any issues and to discuss what your child wants to happen.
  • Then direct your child to go deeper within: “Close your eyes and feel any movements, noises, colors, smells, etc. inside your body.” 
  • Next, have them focus their attention on their immediate surroundings: “Observe the shapes and colors around you; feel and smell the air that’s touching you; notice the ground that’s supporting you; listen to noises nearby.”
  • After doing that, help them pay attention to the bigger space around them, progressively acknowledging everything they can perceive from nearby to very far away.

If and when this is difficult for your child, read a short story together. Then, invite your child to report and expand by way of reflection and discussion:

  • Ask your child to tell and interpret the story in their own words. 
  • Help them distinguish between what the story actually says and what it means to them.
  • Look at the illustrations, and see how verbal and non-verbal language may be used to convey messages.
  • Give examples of how a certain concept in the story may apply to each of you in your life.
  • See if your child can describe different scenarios to convey the same messages.
  • Dramatize and/or role-play relevant scenarios or situations.
  • Make it fun!

Emmanuelle Betham is author of the I realise series which  aims to help its readers develop emotional intelligence and mindfulness. It is the British spelling of ‘realize’, from the French ‘réaliser’, meaning both to discover and to accomplish. LanguageCommunicationCoaching.com.