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How to Develop Emotional Intelligence in Young Adults
Raising emotionally-intelligent young adults is not something that happens automatically, but it is a skill that can be developed and used throughout their lives. Emotional intelligence—understanding one’s own feelings and emotions and being able to interact and engage with others effectively—is a key element in a successful life. Here are some tips for helping young adults develop emotional intelligence:
Communicate Clearly and Honestly
Clear, honest communication is the foundation of emotional intelligence. If a young adult understands how to communicate effectively, there will be fewer miscommunications and misunderstandings. Encourage young adults to communicate their expectations, as well as their thoughts and feelings while listening to others. Helping them practice good habits around communication is the key to fostering and developing emotional intelligence.
Identify and Express Emotions
Learning to identify and express emotions is essential for emotional intelligence. Encourage the young adult to practice self-awareness and recognize when different emotions, such as fear, anger, and happiness, are present. Teaching them how to express these emotions in a constructive manner will help to promote emotional intelligence.
Part of developing emotional intelligence is learning how to set boundaries. Discuss expectations, as well as consequences, with the young adult in order to help them learn how to manage their reactions and behaviors. It is important for them to understand that if these boundaries are crossed, there will be appropriate repercussions.
Engage in Meaningful Relationships
Engaging in meaningful relationships—friendships, family, a romantic partner—is important for the growth and development of young adults. Support the young adult in building meaningful relationships that are mutually beneficial and respectful. Help them learn how to recognize when an individual is not being respectful and how to address this appropriately.
Teaching young adults core values, such as respect and honesty, will help them understand what is right and wrong in their decision-making processes as they develop into adults. Talk with them about the importance of holding true to these values, even when it becomes difficult, and explain how strong values can help maintain meaningful relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
Self-care is essential for the development of emotional intelligence. Discuss with the young adult the importance of taking time for themselves for relaxation and self-reflection. Establishing routines for healthy eating, sleeping well, exercising, and seeking out healthy distractions, such as hobbies, can help young adults stay on track as they develop.
Developing emotional intelligence is a lifelong process, and young adults need guidance and support to build these skills. Helping young adults identify and express emotions, engage in meaningful relationships, build a strong set of values, and practice self-care can support their development of emotional intelligence.