Inside: Raising an emotionally intelligent boy / son will allow them to express their emotions easily and encourage them to be compassionate and kind, and have an understanding of other’s emotions and empathy for them as well.
How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Son
How can we raise boys to be comfortable with their emotions? Raising an emotionally intelligent son is one of the most crucial things a parent can do to help shape the future of their child’s life. Not to mention those around them too!
Boys are told they should suppress their compassion, empathy, and sadness. They’re not allowed to cry at movies or when they scrape their knee. Instead, they’re encouraged to show their emotions through dominance, strength, and resiliency.
How we’re taught to handle our emotions often comes from lessons and behaviors we learned as a child. More and more, we’re seeing an increase in anxiety and overall mental distress from adults, so we must put in the work now to help our children handle things differently.
All too often, kids can keep up in the dark about their emotions. How on earth can we do anything as parents if our kids don’t want to open up? Follow these tips to help encourage your son to talk about their emotions so you can raise an emotionally intelligent son who is set up for success.
Why do Kids Suppress Their Emotions
It comes as no surprise that children learn a lot from their parents. From how they talk to the smallest of mannerisms, kids pick up a lot of their behaviors and ways of communicating with their parents. Of course, this can include the way they express their emotions.
While it’s easy to blame everything on parents, the environment plays a big factor too. Just think of the way that society tells boys how they should act! They see it all the time in popular culture, where the men are superheroes, and they have to stay strong and fight to save the day.
Many children learn that it’s not safe to express their emotions. They’re told to stop crying, to move on, and that it’s no big deal.
Alternatively, a child may feel scared and powerless. They don’t have a voice and are too scared to express their emotions. Instead, the emotions bubble inside, and then it comes out in different ways, like tantrums and aggression.
How to Raise Boys, so They’re Comfortable with Emotions
The first five years of a child’s life are essential to their future behavior. It begins with how you bond with your baby and form attachments, then how they learn to express their needs and talk. Finally, they’re exposed to social situations and new people.
We’re often teaching boys to be physically violent to deal with emotions or to keep them locked up tight. Ultimately, this leads to dangerous behavior and even depression.
Luckily, as parents, we can do a lot to raise an emotionally intelligent son who isn’t scared to express and deal with their emotions.
Look for Signals
The first step in raising an emotionally intelligent son is knowing their signals. Know what classifies as normal behavior and look for anything that feels out of the ordinary. For example, this could mean being quiet on the ride home from school or refusing to go somewhere they normally love!
A teacher or other loved one may also tell you they’re acting differently. It’s important to acknowledge this even if you haven’t noticed yourself so you can identify future behavior and patterns.
If you notice something is up, encourage your son to talk about their feelings. They may not always talk on their own immediately, so it’s a good idea to initiate that conversation.
It’s possible they might not know how to express those emotions yet. Talk things through with them and help them label how they’re feeling. This way, they can identify what’s going on themselves and bring it forward to you next time.
Create a Safe Space
An emotionally intelligent son knows they can reach out to their parents when they need support because they’ve been given the space and opportunity to do so.
A child needs to know that all emotions are welcome and they can speak in an area free of judgment and criticism.
As a parent, your job is to listen. How you react will say a lot to your children. Don’t get defensive or judge. We easily dismiss these feelings as no big deal when faced with our big adult problems. So while you may think another child stealing your son’s toy at daycare is no big deal, it is to them!
Be open to what your son says and react with compassion and respect. When appropriate, also strength. Your child needs to know that you can help them when needed.
You’re telling your child that they’re loved by respecting what they’re feeling and listening carefully. This, in turn, increases their capacity to share and grow as an individual.
Accept the Bad Emotions
As parents, we want our kids to be happy all the time. But the reality is there are many ups and downs in life, even as a kid. You need to know that these big feelings will happen and are often out of your control.
You don’t always need to fix things. In most cases, you just need to listen to them. If possible, help them work through their feelings and then lead them to find a solution on their own.
Sometimes, these bad emotions may arise in your son acting out. Instead of providing harsh disciplining and punishments, listen to them and try to establish boundaries to prevent it from happening in the future.
Enjoy Quality Time Together
Every parent should spend quality time with each kid every day. This can be a moment together washing dishes, reading a bedtime book, driving to school, playing a game, and more. Ideally, it should be something your child enjoys doing, and you do too!
This should be some uninterrupted time with each other. Quality time lets your child know that you see them as a priority and keep up to date with each other’s lives.
Quality time also allows you to create a situation where you can easily talk to each other. You get to know your son very well and can see these differences and signals for when they need to talk. Start off by asking how their day was and go from there.
Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation
Emotion should be a part of every day. We shouldn’t reserve these moments of expressing our emotions just when we’re sad or angry.
Make sure to praise efforts and small notes of kindness every day. They need to hear regularly that you’re proud of them and that they’re doing a good job, whether that’s helping clean up dishes without being asked or sharing with their sibling.
Of course, a son will need comfort when they’re sad too. Just beyond words and listening, hug them or show other signs of physical touch if they’re okay with it.
Teach your emotionally intelligent son that it’s normal to communicate your feelings regularly and be affectionate with the people you love. Say I love you regularly. Support and love are shown in many different ways!
Teach Them Outlets
If your son doesn’t want to talk to you, ensure they have other systems in place to open up and handle their emotions healthily.
This can mean finding someone else they do want to talk to, whether that’s a grandparent or a professional like a therapist or school counselor. Let them know you’re always there to talk, but also encourage them to find help through all their support systems.
Besides talking, there are other ways to handle emotions. This looks different for every person! One person might like to get active and go for a run, while others like to listen to music and do some journaling. Help them find their outlet.
Be a Role Model
You need to be empathetic and compassionate if you want your child to be too. Children learn so much of their behavior from their parents; even when you think they’re not paying attention, their sponge brains absorb it all. Treat others around you with kindness and go out of your way to help others.
It’s also important to prioritize your own emotional health. It’s easy to put our kids first all the time, but your kids need to see you looking after yourself too. They’ll notice when you’re feeling stressed or burnout, and that negative mood will ultimately impact them too.
With your kids, you also want to express your emotions. You can’t expect your child to talk to you about their feelings if you never talk about yours either!
It’s a big deal for sons to see this from their father and not only their mother. Expressing emotions may require unpacking your ways of dealing with emotions you learned as a child. You don’t want to carry that baggage and pass that down to your own children. Even unintentionally!
Just like we should encourage girls to embrace their strength and stand up for themselves, we need to teach boys to nurture their empathy and emotions. Boys need to learn not to get hung up on the world’s definition of masculinity and that it’s okay to show your feelings.
By raising an emotionally intelligent son, you will greatly impact their lives and others around them!
More Articles & Tools. on the Topic of Emotions & Emotional Intelligence:
- How To Help Kids With Bottled-Up Emotions
- How Can I Help My Child Deal with Strong Emotions?
- Teaching Feelings & 6 Steps to Help Kids Express Their Emotions
- 7 Ways to Help Kids Identify Feelings & Control Emotions
- How to Meet the Core Emotional Needs of a Child
- Help Your Children Understand Emotions and Develop the Emotional Intelligence They Need