In the previous blog, you’ve learned which life skills are necessary for your teen’s success in college and beyond. Today we will focus on how you can help your daughter build Emotional Intelligence and Social Strength.
Emotional intelligence and social strength go hand in hand. Social strength comes from understanding others, and understanding others always begin with understanding ourselves. A cornerstone of deep self-awareness is Emotional Intelligence, often referred to as EQ. It includes the ability to recognize and understand emotions and use that understanding to guide thinking and actions. When college students have a high EQ, they have greater emotional control enabling them to lessen the intensity of negative reactions and better manage stress. A high EQ also supports empathy, assertiveness, and resilience.
To give your daughter an Emotional Intelligence boost:
Identify emotions and reactions. Certain situations trigger certain emotions. Parents can help girls understand their triggers by pointing out what sets off a reaction. Start by saying simply, “I notice you have a lot more energy when you go to bed earlier” or “It seems like this new friend is saying a lot of things that upset you. Is that right?” Remember, when you point out emotional reactions, always do it without judgment. Come from a place of curiosity and neutrality.
Differentiate reactions and responses. A reaction is instinctual and usually instantaneous, whereas a response is done with thought and intention. Responses are always a choice and always within our control. When college students understand this, they are better able to recognize when they are reacting rather than responding. They can pull themselves out of the unhelpful reaction and contemplate a more useful response.
Learn more about EQ in this blog.
Social strength requires EQ. When girls have social strength they create and communicate their boundaries. They can understand others and use that understanding to form healthy relationships and cut off unhealthy ones. They bounce back from social setbacks, let things go, and move forward with confidence.
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To promote social strength, start with building assertiveness skills, empathy, and resilience.
Practice Assertiveness: Assertive teens speak up for themselves and others in a way that is calm, positive, and thoughtful. In order to get to this point, teens need tools for processing their emotions in an effective way so they can identify the desired outcome and separate their feelings and needs from the feelings and needs of others. Journaling is a safe outlet for teens to process their experiences while deepening their understanding of their choices. Exercise can burn off frenzied emotional energy and help your teen gain a sense of calm. A life coach can help your teen gain a broader perspective and determine how to move forward with grace and purpose.
You can also teach your teen that feelings reveal actions that need to be taken. For example, anger may mean a hard conversation is needed. Ongoing sadness may mean something or someone needs to be let-go.
Develop Empathy: Empathy means paying attention to the needs and feelings of others. You can model empathy with your teen when you listen, ask thoughtful questions, make eye contact, and give her your undivided attention. Honor her experience by saying, “What I think I understand is….” When she expresses a different point of view, say, “I can see why you look at things this way, and it makes sense. I have a different perspective.” When you do this for her, you are teaching her how to do it with others.
Grow Resilience: Point out examples of people who demonstrate confidence and resilience. Ask what these qualities mean for your teen. Acknowledge when she demonstrates confidence and resilience. This will help deepen her understanding of the actions that reflect confidence and resilience.
It is also essential to teach your teen the benefits of perceived failure. Acknowledge the important lessons that can be learned through an experienced failure. Ask questions like: What did you learn? What can you do next time? What will you definitely not do? What do you now know that you didn’t know before?
To further develop social strength:
Talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Ask her what makes her feel happy and supported in a relationship. Talk about how she sparks happiness in others and supports her friends through challenges. Help her get clear on what she needs in all kinds of relationships, as well as what behaviors are not OK.
Next week you will learn how you can strengthen your teen’s decision-making and self-advocacy skills.