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How to raise emotionally intelligent kids

By | Lael Stone |

This post is part of TED’s “How to Be a Better Human” series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community; browse through all the posts here.

I’d like you to take a moment and imagine you’re four years old. You’re building a tower, and you’re really proud of it.

But then the next minute another child comes running along and kicks over your tower. You are outraged, and you feel all these feelings bubble up inside — hurt, panic, frustration and helplessness. Just then, an adult comes by.

They get close, get down to your level, and ask: “Honey, what happened?”

In their eyes, there’s compassion and you feel that their body is calm and regulated. And then all those feelings come bubbling out of you — frustration, anger, helplessness.

This adult says: “Tell me all about it.” They don’t try and fix it, and they don’t say to you: “Don’t worry, you can build another one.” They just let you feel all that you’re feeling. Then they open their arms and you snuggle, take another deep breath, feel better and go back to building your tower.

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