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Why Emotional Intelligence In Kids Matters

Why Emotional Intelligence In Kids Matters

Many people, especially parents, are well aware of what IQ is. IQ or intelligence quotient is the measure of a person’s academic intelligence and ability. For a very long time, IQ scores were used as a measure of success for children. Today, thanks to extensive research from psychologists like Daniel Goleman, author of the New York Times’ bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, we now know of another kind of intelligence called emotional intelligence or EQ.

The argument today, and what could be a big surprise to parents, is that EQ can be a better indicator of our children’s success than IQ. Now, more than ever, there are more schools incorporating EQ into their curriculums and rightly so. The question to ask becomes what is EQ and why is it important?

EQ is a person’s ability to recognize emotions in themselves and in others, and to respond intelligently in a socially appropriate way with empathy. Other traits associated with EQ are a person’s ability to regulate anxiety, self-acceptance and a capacity to see another person’s point of view. Having a high EQ is a better indicator for success than IQ for many reasons. While a high IQ score might help your child’s academic ability in terms of verbal comprehension, reasoning, memory and processing speed, these abilities will only take them so far in both school and in life. On the other hand, a high EQ in a child will help your child stay longer in school, build resilience, grit, motivation, perseverance, impulse control, coping mechanisms and the ability to delay gratifications. All of these traits have been linked with more success in life and happier individuals.

Now comes the big question: Can we teach our children emotional intelligence and how? The answer to the first question is absolutely yes! How? Here are a few points to get you started:

1. Help your child to acknowledge and label his own emotions. When your child is mad, help your child label that feeling and do not suppress it. Provide your child with coping mechanisms to deal with his different emotions. When your child is frustrated but does not know how to label his feeling, ask him to describe his feeling to you
2. Walk the talk! This means you as a parent need to talk about your own emotions and put a label to them. Share how you feel and model appropriate ways of dealing with these emotions.
3. Teach empathy. Challenge your child to be curious about other people’s emotions. Ask your child quite openly about how she thinks a certain person feels in a certain situation. Eventually this will teach your child to consider what other people might be feeling or why they act in a certain way.
4. Teach appropriate responses and behaviors. This means teaching your child that being angry is ok but hitting, screaming and yelling are not acceptable ways to express anger. Children will feel a range of emotions on any given day and having the tools to help them express these feelings appropriately is one of the best ways to foster EQ in a child.

More tips include reading out loud, playing together, modeling kindness and practicing gratitude to name a few. Keep in mind that developmentally, children typically tend to focus on themselves rather than others. This will eventually change. Keep up the hard work, teaching and modeling and eventually you will start to notice a change.

‘If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far’ – Daniel Goleman

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