Emotional intelligence is key to parenting. That’s because it refers to your capacity to be cognizant and in control of your emotions and how you allow those emotions to manifest in your expressions, as well as how empathetically you handle your interpersonal relationships. So when your child throws a temper tantrum, as all children do, emotional intelligence will help you assuage the situation.
Of course, parenting is a lot of figuring it out — you don’t always know what to do, and that’s okay because everyone parents differently. What’s perhaps more important is knowing what not to do.
Here are five things emotionally intelligent people refuse to do when their children throw temper tantrums.
1. They don’t try to calm their child down.
An emotionally intelligent parent allows their child to have their temper tantrum — unless, of course, their child is physically harming or endangering himself or others. They understand that emotions are valid, but that they’re also solely energy passing through us — chemical reactions — and, therefore, this too shall pass. So rather than trying to calm their child down, they allow them to feel what they’re feeling. By not giving their child attention in this time, as well, they understand that they’re not reinforcing this poor behavior.
2. They don’t yell back.
Emotionally intelligent parents understand that you can’t fight fire with fire. As such, they don’t yell back but, rather, they stay calm. And because children often match the behavior of those around them, staying cool and collected may actually help them to relax, as well.
3. They don’t get frustrated with the holes in communication.
Children have trouble communicating simply because they don’t have the vocabulary to verbalize the many thoughts and emotions that they’re experiencing.
“Children this age usually have a vocabulary of only about 50 words and can’t link more than two together at a time. Their communication is limited, yet they have all these thoughts and wishes and needs to be met. When you don’t get the message or misunderstand, they freak out to release their frustration,” pediatrician Jay Hoecker told Parents, suggesting that using sign language and pointing to help your children express themselves can help to ease their frustration.
4. They don’t overcrowd their child.
Emotionally intelligent parents understand that kids, like adults, need space when they’re feeling angry. Giving your children space to let their anger out, pull themselves together and regain some sense of self-control can be a learning experience for them.
5. They don’t show aggression back.
Emotionally intelligent parents are able to empathize with their children, and they understand that temper tantrums are often rooted in sadness, even if they manifest in anger, according to Good Therapy. As such, they may go in for a strong, firm hug to help calm their child down, rather than exacerbating the situating with mirrored frustration. A firm hug can offer security and let your child know that you care, even if you don’t agree with their poor behavior — it’s not a cuddly hug that condones their behavior but, rather, an assuring one. After all, hugs are “stress-buffers,” according to Psych Central.
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