7 tips to help your child develop emotional intelligence

7 tips to help your child develop emotional intelligence

It’s easier (and more fun than you might think!) to make a positive impact on your child’s emotional intelligence and self-regulation. It’s something that will last throughout their whole life, and help them build healthy habits and relationships. 

Here are some handy, research-based tips: 

1) Read often

Reading is one of the most effective ways to develop emotional intelligence. Anything to help children detect emotion in faces, voices, music, and stories is good for them! Identifying with characters really helps them pick up on emotional cues and develop empathy.[1]

2) Talk about your feelings

Being free to cry and talk about how you feel is an important part of self-regulation. That’s why our new child development book includes house rules like “Let it out”. Remind your child that home is a safe place and that negative feelings come and go, so they shouldn't fixate on them.[2] Learning words like “flustered” or “distraction” also helps kids name and contextualise complex emotions, eventually helping them become more aware of their own thought patterns so they can make better decisions.

3) Turn off those devices

Something as simple as putting phones away before dinner or turning off the TV during family time helps kids understand the importance of impulse control in their use of addictive technology - a valuable lesson in self-regulation. They will come to learn that quality family time is always the top priority. 

4) Show some love! 

We love house rules like “Kiss and go” because they encourage kids to show their emotions, be affectionate, and put family first. A loving and supportive environment - where it is safe to be vulnerable - is just the space that children need in order to develop their emotional intelligence and thrive.[3]

5) Make the rules very clear 

Whether it’s saying “please” and “thank you” or hanging up your coat, talking about rules with your kids helps them understand why they are useful and what would happen if they didn’t exist. Remember to be consistent in following the rules yourself and stick to the consequences you agreed upon for when rules are broken, but be prepared to adjust them as your child grows older and is ready to handle extended rights and more flexible rules.[4]

6) Start with simple tasks and gradually introduce more demanding ones 

For example, start by encouraging kids to pick up their toys or help you set and clear the table. As they grow older, you can increase the complexity of tasks you ask them to be responsible for. For example, you can encourage kids to get ready for school by themselves, take out the garbage, unload the dishwasher, tidy up their bedroom, and so on. [4]

7) Always praise kids for effort, even if they don’t do a great job at first

Neuroscience shows that praise helps reinforce good habits by making children feel good about what they’re doing. This kind of reward is what makes them want to do something again and again. [4]

Simply put - emotional intelligence is being able to understand yourself and to connect in a meaningful way with others. And self-regulation is being able to moderate your behavior to get the best of every situation that life sends your way. 

Our 37 Essential House Rules is now available to buy on our site. 



[1] Mar, R. (2011) “The neural bases of social cognition and story Comprehension”. Annual Review of Psychology, 62: 103-134.

[2] Siegel, D.J. and Paybe Bryson, T. (2011). The Whole-Brain Child. 12 Proven Strategies to Nurture your Child’s Developing Mind. Random House Publishing.

[3] Daisy Grewal, Marc Brackett, and Peter Salovey, (2006). 'Emotional intelligence and the Self-Regulation of Affect'. In D. K. Snyder, J. Simpson, & J. N. Hughes (eds.), Emotion regulation in couples and families: Pathways to dysfunction and health.

[4] Pressman, D. P.; R. Jackson; R. Pressman (2014). The Learning Habit.  Penguin Random House.