Parents who raise kids with high emotional intelligence never use these 3 phrases: Harvard neuroscience expert

As parents, we all want to raise emotionally intelligent kids. Neuropsychologist Dr. Julia DiGangi reveals three phrases you should never say to your kids.

Parents who raise kids with high emotional intelligence never use these 3 phrases: Harvard neuroscience expert

To raise more

Emotionally intelligent

Parents need to talk to their children in an emotionally intelligent way.

Harvard-trained, I am a professional in the field of business.


I teach communication styles that encourage connection and independence. Both are essential if you wish to build strong, healthy, and empathic relationships.

What to say in place of these three phrases when talking with your emotionally intelligent child.

Why aren't you more motivated?

The brain is designed to excel in any situation. When children struggle to learn, it is not because they do not want to -- it is because they can't.

The issue is not their motivation. There is a disconnect in your expectations and their abilities as parents.

What to say instead

To be emotionally intelligent, you should always be curious to know where your child's motivations and abilities intersect.

Say your child spends too much time on video games, and not enough time reading.

Asking "Why don't you read more books?" is a bad question. Try an open-ended, non-directive question instead: "I can tell you enjoy video games. What do you love about them? "Would you like to share your thoughts with me?"

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You have a higher emotional intelligence if you can answer the 10 questions.

Why don't listen to me?

I worked with parents who had a daughter with sensory issues. They were frustrated when she refused to leave the car at the doctor's.

They learned, however, that the music in the doctor's offices was the real problem. The problem was solved with a simple pair of earplugs.

The real problem was that parents didn't listen to their child.

What to say instead

The brains of children are hardwired to be autonomous and explore the world according to their own identity. Not your ideas about what they should be.

Asking "Have you listened to me?" is a good question to ask if you are in an argument with a child who seems unwilling or stubborn.

Parents who are emotionally intelligent don't seek compliance, but rather connection. You need to show them that you're willing to listen to the truth about their experience.

You are so disrespectful!

I often see parents jump to broad -- and disastrous -- conclusions about the behavior of their children based on their insecurities.

A couple said, "Our teenager does not respect us," when their child refused to listen when told to complete their science homework. Once the parents raised their concerns in a low-stakes, safe conversation, their teenager responded emphatically, "I respect you!" "Science is hard for me."

What to say instead

Asking specific, non-judgmental and then affirming your willingness to listen is the most emotional intelligent way to deal with fears that your child doesn't respect.

You could say something like: "I saw that you scored 64% in your last science exam. Would you like to discuss it? "I just want to know about your experience."

The feelings of children can rub off on you. We get rattled when they are. When big emotions are present, it is natural to try to control them by telling your child to be quieter, to calm down or to listen more carefully. As a parent, it isn't your job to control the emotions of your children. It's yours.

Dr. Julia DiGangi

PhD is a neuropsychologist, and the author of "

Energy Rising: Leading with Emotional Strength.

" She completed residency at Harvard Medical School and Boston University School of Medicine. She studied trauma, genetics and resilience at Columbia University, University of Chicago, and Georgetown. Follow her on Instagram



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