Build a Child’s Emotional Intelligence- Encourage Self-Talk

Success in school, and in life, takes more than just academic skills. Strong social and emotional skills are critical. Our emotional intelligence includes how we view ourselves, how well we understand and manage our feelings and how we relate to, or empathize with, others. Developing these important skills can lead to greater happiness, healthier relationships and increased productivity- in short, success!

A recent article by Dr. Maria Chelsey Fisk gives parents tips on how to help children build the skills they need for strong emotional intelligence. One strategy that can be used easily by parents and teachers is encouraging positive self-talk. Self-talk is the language we use when evaluating ourselves. “I am pretty,” “I am smart,” “I can do it” are all examples of positive self-talk that can serve to counter the all-too-common phrases “I’m ugly,” “I’m dumb,” “I can’t”. Here are a few tips:

  • When you hear a child talk to him or herself in a negative way, don’t let it slide. It’s a teachable moment! Try a comment like, “You’re not dumb, you just made a mistake. You’re a smart kid who made a mistake!”
  • Catch kids being good and reinforce it by modeling self-talk for them. When they are helping a friend say something like, “look at you helping your friend. You’re a real helper. You can tell yourself, hey- I’m a helper!”
  • Acknowledge children’s perseverance or efforts, “You tried and you tried and you tried and you did it! You are a doer. ‘I can’ is your motto!”

Encouraging children to leave behind the negative self-talk and showing them how to give themselves a pat on the back with positive self-talk is a simple way to give a child strategies for managing frustration and can help a child along the path to positive self-esteem.


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