How to Boost Your Kid’s Emotional Smarts: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children

Ever feel like you’re navigating a maze when it comes to teaching your kids about their feelings? You’re not alone. Understanding emotions isn’t just a crucial life skill for adults—it’s equally vital for children. Let’s dive into some straightforward, practical parenting hacks that will help you guide your kids in recognizing and managing their emotions, setting the stage for a more harmonious home.

Make Emotions Part of Everyday Conversations

Start by weaving discussions about feelings into your daily routine. Whether it’s talking about a character in a storybook or discussing how they felt after a playdate went awry, make talking about feelings as normal as discussing what’s for dinner. This normalizes emotional discourse and makes your kids comfortable with expressing their feelings.

Use Visual Aids

For younger children, visual aids like emotion cards or charts can be incredibly helpful. These can have pictures of faces depicting different emotions. Encourage your child to point out what they’re feeling. You can also use these tools to ask how a certain event might make them feel, which builds empathy and predictive emotional intelligence.

Recognize and Validate Their Feelings

Whenever your child expresses an emotion, take it seriously. Validate their feelings by saying things like, “It sounds like you are really upset about this,” or “I can see why that would make you feel excited!” Validation doesn’t mean you agree with every response; it means you acknowledge their feelings as real and important.

Be a Role Model

Children learn a lot by imitation. Show them how you deal with your emotions in healthy ways. For instance, if you’re feeling frustrated, verbalize this and show how you cope, whether it’s by taking deep breaths, counting to ten, or stepping away for a moment. Seeing you manage your emotions teaches them to do the same.

Create a ‘Feelings Journal’

Encourage older children to keep a ‘feelings journal.’ This can be a private space where they jot down what they felt over the day and why. It’s a great way for them to process emotions and reflect on what triggers different responses. Plus, it can be a helpful tool for discussing emotions together and finding patterns that might need addressing.

Play Emotion-Charades

Turn learning into a fun activity with a game of Emotion-Charades. Write down different emotions on slips of paper and take turns acting them out. This not only helps your child recognize different emotional expressions but also adds a playful element to emotional education.

Read Together

Choose books that explore a range of emotions and discuss these with your kids. Ask questions like, “How do you think the character felt when that happened?” or “What would you do if you were in their place?” This promotes emotional literacy and perspective-taking.

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Encourage Emotional Vocabulary

Expand your child’s emotional vocabulary beyond just happy, sad, or mad. Introduce more nuanced terms like disappointed, frustrated, or thrilled. The richer a child’s emotional vocabulary, the better they can articulate their feelings.

Emotional terms with explanations are tailored to make it easier for kids to understand their emotions and express them more clearly.

  1. Joyful – Feeling super happy, like when you’re having a lot of fun.
  2. Sad – Feeling down or unhappy, like when you lose a favorite toy.
  3. Angry – Feeling really annoyed or upset, like when someone takes your turn.
  4. Afraid – Feeling scared about something, like during a thunderstorm.
  5. Excited – Feeling really happy and looking forward to something, like your birthday party.
  6. Disappointed – Feeling sad because something didn’t happen the way you wanted, like if a trip gets canceled.
  7. Frustrated – Feeling upset because something is hard to do, like when you can’t solve a puzzle.
  8. Lonely – Feeling sad because you want someone to play with and nobody is around.
  9. Curious – Wanting to learn more about something, like asking lots of questions about how things work.
  10. Confident – Feeling sure about what you can do, like when you know you can ride your bike without help.
  11. Nervous – Feeling jittery or shaky about something coming up, like the first day of school.
  12. Grateful – Being happy about something nice that someone did for you.
  13. Confused – Not understanding something or feeling mixed up, like during a tricky lesson.
  14. Proud – Feeling really good about something you did, like after you build a tall block tower.
  15. Embarrassed – Feeling shy or awkward because of something that happened, like tripping in front of friends.
  16. Jealous – Feeling unhappy because someone has something that you wish you had, like a new toy.
  17. Guilty – Feeling sorry because you did something wrong, like drawing on the wall.
  18. Betrayed – Feeling very hurt because someone didn’t keep a promise, like if a friend tells a secret.
  19. Overwhelmed – Feeling like too much is happening at once, like when you have too much homework.
  20. Hopeful – Feeling like something good will happen, like hoping for a snow day.
  21. Anxious – Worrying a lot about something, like a test at school.
  22. Insecure – Not feeling very sure about yourself, like worrying if you’ll make new friends.
  23. Calm – Feeling peaceful and not worried, like when you’re coloring quietly.
  24. Inspired – Feeling excited to make or do something cool, like after watching a superhero movie.
  25. Relieved – Feeling happy that something you were worried about is over or didn’t happen, like finishing a hard test.
  26. Bored – Feeling like there is nothing fun to do, like on a rainy day inside.
  27. Shocked – Being surprised by something unexpected, like a surprise party.
  28. Tired – Needing to rest because you feel worn out, like after playing all day.
  29. Loved – Feeling cared for and special, like when you get a hug from your family.


Teaching your kids about feelings doesn’t have to be daunting. With these parenting hacks, you can help your children become more aware of their emotions, leading to better self-management and healthier relationships. Remember, the goal isn’t to control emotions but to understand and handle them effectively. Dive into these practices, and watch your child’s emotional intelligence flourish!


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