6 signs your child has ‘high emotional intelligence’ and why it's a good thing

How you can tell if your child is on track when it comes to happiness and success

girl comforting her upset friend at school
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A parenting expert has shared six signs to look out for that show your child has 'high emotional intelligence' which is vital for happiness and success, and if they don't, how you can help them develop the skill.

As a parent, you worry about child development right from pregnancy through birth – it doesn't stop even when they're in their teens (and that's normal, FYI). But now in addition to learning how to help your child use their voice, there are some ways you can teach your child emotional intelligence if they're not already showing signs.

Reem Raouda is a certified conscious parenting coach and founder of The Connected Discipline Method, a coaching programme for parents of strong-willed children and she's highlighted the six ways in which kids show they have high emotional intelligence – which is a key predictor for happiness and success.

High emotional intelligence is the ability to identify one's emotions and also understand the emotions of others. In addition to happiness and success, it helps you to build relationships, reduce stress, diffuse conflict and improve satisfaction.

And if your child doesn't have all the signs, fear not, for Reem has some tips for how you can easily teach them the skills.

6 signs your child has 'high emotional intelligence'

1. Recognising non-verbal clues

A child who is good at picking up on other's feelings by watching their body language and facial expressions are very emotionally intelligent. A child might display this by telling you, "Mum, my friend Sarah was really quiet today. I asked if she wanted to play, and she said 'no'. I think she was sad about something,” Reem explained.

Strengthen this skill by: Chatting to your child about their day and what emotions they witnessed in the people they played with. This will help them identify and strengthen their ability to read emotions, and will make them more confident when understanding others.

Ask your child: "What kids of a mood do you think your best friend was in today?".

2. Showing empathy and compassion

Building on identifying different emotions might look like the ability to show real concern towards them and offer help. A child can show this by telling their 'losing' friend during a playdate, "You played really well! Do you want to play something else together?”, Reem suggested.

Strengthen this skill by: Showing your child that you have empathy for others too.

Say to your child: "I'm worried about [elderly neighbour]. Let's check on her and see if she needs any help with anything."

3. They can name their emotions

A child who can talk openly about emotions and apply them to everyday scenarios is someone who is emotionally intelligent. They might say “I feel frustrated because I can’t solve this puzzle,” or “I’m happy because I helped my friend fix her toy,”. Here, Reem says they are "recognising and communicating their emotions".

Strengthen this skill by: Practicing labelling your emotions so that they come naturally – saying phrases like, 'I'm disappointed I can't find my keys', 'I'm a bit overwhelmed with all the work I have to do', or 'I'm worried that we're going to be late to the cinema'.

children having an indoor picnic eating fruit

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. They are adaptable

A child who can adapt well to change without throwing a tantrum has emotional maturity. For instance, if an outdoor picnic is cancelled, they are happy to have an indoor picnic instead.

Strengthen this skill by: Being flexible and calm as a parent and your children will pick up on this and start copying it.

What to ask your child: "What can we do instead?" – helping them to problem solve.

5. They are good listeners

A child who is a good listener will be able to pick up on subtle cues of feelings conveyed through words that others might miss, especially if they ask questions and show curiosity.

Strengthen this skill by: Giving your child your full attention when they are telling a story. Stop what you're doing, make eye contact and get down to their level if you're not already. "Reflect and repeat back what they are saying to show them you're really listening," Reem added.

6. They can self-regulate

If your child can handle big feelings, stay calm and make smart choices, then it's a strong sign that they're emotionally intelligent. They keep cool and carry on, even after disappointment. Reem explained, "Picture your child playing a game with friends and losing a round. Instead of reacting out of frustration, a kid who is good at self-regulation might take a moment to catch their breath, and then jump back in with a positive mindset."

Strengthen this skill by: Resisting your own tantrums and implementing a 'pause and breathe' technique where you teach your child to take a deep breath and count to 10 and let them see you do it as well. "When kids see us handle tough times with grace, it's a lesson they won't forget," Reem added.

In other family news, Struggle to get the kids out the door each morning? You're not alone – these expert-led tips might help everyone leave the house on time and Teen not taking your ‘unsolicited’ advice? Here’s how to make yourself heard (without being given the side eye)

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)