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The Importance of Emotional Intelligence and How to Cultivate it in Your Kid

Emotions color our world. They can go from bright and colorful to very dull. Kids’ emotional well-being is closely related to their physical well-being. It is not uncommon for kids to develop headaches, tummy aches, or even throw up when they have to do something that affects them strongly.

Research suggests that “emotions coordinate our behavioral and physiological states.” Emotions manifest in different bodies in different ways. In other words, while not everyone might get butterflies when anxious, emotions play on the nervous system, leading to different physical manifestations.

According to the neuroscientist Candace Pert, “your body is your subconscious mind.” Dr. Pert argues that different emotions send different messages to the body and may lead to a nervous system imbalance.

Common physical manifestations include headaches, tingling hands and feet, stress and anxiety, depression, muscular pain, cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and a sudden urge to urinate or defecate.

Teaching kids to manage their emotions is, therefore, an important step that can ensure their well-being in childhood and beyond. Here are five tips to strengthen your child’s emotional intelligence:

1 | Help kids reflect on their emotions

Young kids don’t always know which emotions they’re feeling and rarely do they know how to respond to them.

Kids won’t learn to differentiate emotions unless we teach them how. They may know they are feeling “something,” but they do not necessarily know what that “something” is. This largely explains why understanding kids’ emotions can help reduce what we normally perceive as misbehavior. Emotions are everywhere, which means that it’s easy to find opportunities to talk to kids about them.

Treating kids’ emotions as valid and regularly speaking about feelings – how did you feel, how do you think he feels, why do you think she’s so sad? – goes a long way in teaching them to manage their emotions.

2 | Give them tools to manage negative emotions

Try as we might, we cannot protect our kids from negative emotions. We cannot guarantee them a “smooth path,” nor should we. Kids need to know that emotions are normal and can be managed with the right tools.

Teaching kids to manage emotions independently gives them the resources they need when faced with difficult situations. One tool involves helping kids identify appropriate reactions to strong emotions. This will calm them down and reduce anger, stress, and anxiety.

3 | Provide opportunities to express difficult emotions

When we foster a democratic parenting approach, our kids know we are available. This will make it easier for them to come to us when they need help.

When kids know that their opinions count and their emotions will not be invalidated, they are more likely to express their thoughts. That said, kids don’t always open up about what’s bothering them, especially when they’re still in the throes of emotion.

Providing opportunities for kids to quiet down first, in a self-quieting space, for example, can make it easier for them to talk about their emotions once they are calm.

4 | Know when it’s time to let go

Strengthening kids’ emotional intelligence also means teaching them to make their own decisions and then stepping away so they can handle things by themselves. Much evidence suggests that granting children autonomy early teaches important problem-solving skills and also fosters self-esteem.

Helping your children explore different reactions or solutions to any given situation supports good decision-making. For instance, making it a habit to always evaluate “three other options” may make it easier for them to reflect on other possible reactions, even in your absence.

5 | Teach them when to walk away

There’s a story about how “smart fish” catch onto a fisherman’s game and stop taking the bait. Eventually, the fisherman is forced to move away because he can no longer catch any fish at that particular spot.

This story teaches kids that sometimes it’s better to walk away from the issues that cause stress and anxiety (bait). While some issues should be addressed, there are many that can be avoided. Knowing what to avoid can help kids reduce negative emotions.

Strengthening kids’ emotional intelligence can help them live fuller, better, and more fulfilled lives.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas


Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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