How to Raise Emotionally Intelligent Kids

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As parents, we just want what’s best for our kids. Raising children today is harder than it’s ever been, and so preparing them for the big wide world is vital. 

As my little ones grow into bigger ones, I’ve put emotional intelligence at the forefront of skills that they learn. Ensuring your kids are emotionally intelligent will set them up for all of the challenges that they’re sure to face in life—ensuring they are comfortable and confident enough to take these on appropriately. 

The Five Compounds of Emotional Intelligence 

According to behavioral psychologist Daniel Goleman, in order for one to be emotionally intelligent, they must possess five different characteristics

Your parenting skills are most important here, by helping your child to develop these and successfully grow into emotionally intelligent adults. 

Let’s take a look at the five elements of emotional intelligence, to see what these mean for us as parents and what we need to do in order to best support our kids. 


Support your child to understand and recognize their moods, inspirations, and abilities, and how these can affect others. 

We all know toddlers find it challenging to identify their emotions and monitor their emotional state. Tantrums occur when these emotions all get too much for them.

Encourage your little ones, no matter their age, to speak about their feelings and identify which ones relate to which emotions. They should feel comfortable and able to express their emotions at home.

Help them to understand the consequences of their actions. For example, how saying something nasty to their friend can hurt their feelings. 

Teach your child to laugh at their mistakes, and to have confidence in everything that they do.


Encourage your child to take an interest in learning new things, and support them through obstacles as they occur.

Life isn’t perfect, and your child should be aware of this. Everyone faces difficulties that bring a rollercoaster of emotions with them, whether it’s not making the football team or the loss of a pet. 

The critical factor here is having the strength and motivation to carry on, even when the feelings of sadness and low self-esteem are present.

Help your child to set goals and follow through with them, no matter how challenging they may become. Support them to follow through with commitments they have made, even if they feel disempowered to do so. 

Social Skills

Communication is key—speak to your child and encourage them to speak. Let them meet new people and make new friends. Allow them to find common ground with others.

Let your little one see that sometimes people don’t always get along and that some people have different ideas and opinions to others. 

It’s important for your child to engage with others so that they can learn things like social cues, negotiations, and picking up jokes. 

If your child lacks social skills, they will struggle severely as they progress through different milestones. 


Your child will only be able to understand the emotions and reactions of others if they understand their own. 

Don’t hide your feelings or emotions from your child, as they need to be exposed to these in order to understand why different situations make people act and feel differently. 

Encourage your child to take an interest in other people’s feelings. This way, they can learn and understand the social norms of society and why people react differently.


Having the ability to think before you speak is important when communicating with others, so that you can express yourself in a suitable manner. 

Roleplay with your child, and express different feelings and emotions. See how they react and discuss this with them. If they see a person crying, would they laugh at them or ask them what’s wrong?

The Role of the Parent

The way you parent your children will have a huge impact on how they grow up, what values they hold, how they choose to express themselves, and much more.

But learning how to raise emotionally intelligent kids is simple. Lead them and guide them and always support them to be who they choose to be.

Being a parent isn’t about imprisoning your kids, but more about teaching them useful skills and personal qualities that will prepare them for their future. 

Don’t Punish Kids for Being Emotional 

Let your child freely experience and express their emotions

If your child thinks that crying results in being sent to their room or having luxuries removed, they will learn this. They will think that being emotional results in a negative impact, which could have the potential for a lot of problems later in life. 

Be compassionate and understanding towards your child. Tell them that you understand why they feel angry about their best friend not talking to them, for example, and support them to take control of their own emotions. 

Never Convey Judgement

We all hate the feeling of being judged by others, and your child is no exception. 

Put yourself in your child’s shoes and see life from their perspective. If you think they are being irrational or their behavior isn’t acceptable, ask yourself why they are behaving in this way.

Let your child know that you support them and that you’re there for them in difficult times. Never underestimate the importance of talking. Talk to your child and let your child talk to you. 

Help Your Child to Label Emotions

Give your child support in putting into words how they feel. 

Once they have the ability to successfully recognize and label the feelings and emotions they are experiencing, they’ll feel more able to regulate themselves and react better to situations without feeling overwhelmed. 

Use phrases like, “It sounds like your friend has hurt your feelings” or, “I feel that this has upset you” so that your child knows that you are aware and understand. 

Define Limits Together and Work on Problem Solving

Help your child to find ways to respond differently to similar experiences in the future.

Kids crave autonomy. Show them that they have the capability to self-regulate themselves, even in a world that sometimes seems unfair. 

Remind them that while all emotions are acceptable, not all actions and behaviors are.  For example, it’s ok to feel angry, but then hitting someone because of this anger is not ok.

A great way to respond to such an example that sets limits but encourages problem-solving would be to say, “While I understand that your friend has made you angry, hitting him was not ok. How can you express this feeling next time without hitting?”

Never Underestimate Your Child’s Abilities 

Your child has the capacity to develop into a highly functioning adult, who intelligently responds to the everyday challenges of life and problem-solves appropriately and effectively. 

However, as children, they need a hand to hold, an ear to listen, and a parent who can supportively enable them to look at life and respond accordingly. 

Kids are like sponges, and they take everything in. Every word they hear, every behavior they see—they acknowledge them. As a parent, you have to help them differentiate what’s right from wrong while allowing them to have thoughts and feelings about these and conveying their emotions appropriately. 

Let Your Emotions Show

Being a parent is undoubtedly the hardest, most challenging job in the world. It can seem thankless and underappreciated. We don’t get holidays or time off, and we just have to get on with it! 

But remember that emotionally intelligent children become emotionally intelligent adults, and that your parenting skills are the key to ensuring this. 

Help them to develop self-awareness, motivation, social skills, empathy, and self-regulation. Help them to express themselves, and feel comfortable in doing so. Finally, help them to grow emotionally. 

Give your child the best start in life, that will see them have the confidence and capabilities to take on the world!

Howard is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Kristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.