How to help kids develop emotional intelligence

Tina Bryson, PhD Psychotherapist and Author, shares advice for parents on how to help develop your child's emotional intelligence, empathy and insight
How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child
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How to help kids develop emotional intelligence

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The way that we can help our children develop emotional intelligence is by giving them practice. The brain develops what it gets practice doing and so what we can do as parents is we can provide experiences that allow them to kind of strengthen their emotional intelligence muscles. So one of the ways we can do that is by from the time they are little working with them on identifying and naming emotions and throughout their childhood on how to express those emotions appropriately. Any time we ask our kids to reflect on their behavior, what their feelings were, why they acted the way they did, why other people are behaving the way they are, we are building that emotional intelligence in them. And so, an example of that is, for instance, if we are at a restaurant and the waitstaff is not polite, instead of getting flustered ourselves, we can model for them asking the kind of question like boy, I wonder if she is having a really hard day. She seems like she is having a hard time being nice. I wonder if she had something hard happen with her this week. And one time I did that with my son and he said yeah, I wonder if either her dog ran away or her mom is sick. So these are the kinds of things that we can do in the moment that really allow them to think about how other people feel, to build empathy and insight. And these are the types of things that build emotional intelligence.

Tina Bryson, PhD Psychotherapist and Author, shares advice for parents on how to help develop your child's emotional intelligence, empathy and insight

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Tina Payne Bryson, PhD

Psychotherapist & Author

Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, is a psychotherapist at Pediatric and Adolescent Psychology Associates in Arcadia, California, where she sees children and adolescents, as well as provides parenting consultations. She is the school counselor at St. Marks Episcopal School in Altadena, CA, and a Developmental Consultant to Camp Chippewa for Boys. She speaks to parents, educators, and clinicians all across the country. Dr. Bryson earned her PhD from the University of Southern California, where her research explored attachment science, childrearing theory, and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology. Her best-selling book The Whole-Brain Child (co-authored with Dr. Dan Siegel) gives parents practical ways to transform difficult moments into opportunities for children to thrive.  Dr. Bryson has written for a large number of publications, most recently the PBS series “This Emotional Life.”  She lives near Los Angeles with her husband and three children.  

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