Strengthen Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence

By: Psychology Talks

Long gone are the days when IQ (Intelligence Quotient) used to be the indicator of future success. The person who used to score high in IQ tests was considered to be intelligent and predicted to be more successful than the ones who score lower in IQ tests. But in real life, it has been proven time and again that, those who score high on social-emotional skills like motivation, perseverance, impulse control, coping mechanisms and have the ability to delay gratification, tend to be more successful. Employers of today, value EQ more than IQ and look for individuals with high EQ. Companies like Google, American Express and FedEx give high preference to measuring EQ, when they are hiring people

What is the difference between IQ and EQ?

The difference between IQ and EQ is simple. The one with high IQ is good at solving problems or puzzles. They have better cognitive skills and the one with high EQ knows how to handle their own emotions and how to deal with people in a better way. In reality, at every stage of life we are interacting with people more than puzzles, that is why ‘Emotional Intelligence’ holds more importance in our daily lives than IQ. Although we need cognitive intelligence to solve problems, cognitive intelligence just represents a small proportion in our daily life. Therefore, emotional intelligence is more important than cognitive intelligence in influencing an individual’s success.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, is one of the first people to raise awareness of EQ, is the author of Emotional Intelligence, a groundbreaking book that came out in 1995. By definition, emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the expression of emotions. Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them,” says Howard Gardner, the influential Harvard theorist.

Five major categories of emotional intelligence skills are recognized by researchers in this area.

  1. Self-awareness. The ability to recognize emotion as it “happens” is the key to your EQ. Sometimes we are swayed by emotions. We remain angry for a long time without realizing it. For example, if somebody behaved rudely with us, we feel anger towards that person and remain angry throughout the rest of the day without realizing it. Such realization of what we are feeling at the moment is self-awareness.
  2. Self-regulation. We often have little control over when we experience emotions. Picture a woman whose maid ditched her and left her work without notice. The woman feels angry because someone behaved rudely with her. She is unable to control her anger and passes it on to others. She starts shouting at her kids without any legitimate reason. It has a ripple effect. Hence, it is imperative to control your emotions before passing it on to others.
  3. Internal motivation. To motivate ourselves for any achievement of a certain goal with a positive attitude. Sometimes, we are aware of our emotions, but there is a lack of positive attitude towards it. Despite knowing our emotions well, we try to run away from feeling it. In order to deal with emotions successfully, we need to accept it rather than avoiding it. Only then we will have the urge to handle it in a positive way.
  4. Empathy. Understanding the feelings and emotions of others.
  5. Social skills. The development of good interpersonal skills.

Emotional Intelligence among Children

Emotions are innate, but we also improve our capacity for emotional self-regulation as we grow older. By the age of four years, children use preliminary strategies to eliminate disturbing or painful stimuli, such as covering their eyes when they’re scared and plugging their ears when they hear a loud noise.

At the age of 10, children begin to use more complex strategies for emotional self-regulation. When children at this age face problems, they engage in the problem-focused coping mechanism by identifying the trouble and making a plan for dealing with it. When they deem the problem unsolvable, they engage in emotion-focused coping by working on tolerating and controlling distress.

Can you Teach EQ?

The answer is “Yes.” All human beings are born with feelings and emotions, but we learn to use and feel it as we experience it. The role of parents become important in helping them to develop emotional intelligence, as they are the only ones close to them since their birth, and experience numerous emotions with them. However, in most cases, parents themselves are not clear about emotions. As a general rule, parents continuously ask their children to curb their feelings and emotions and behave as per the requirements of the situation.

It is important to realize the fact, that emotions are not an inconvenience, but they serve a certain purpose. The discrete theory of emotions suggests that each of our primary emotions has evolved to serve distinct purposes and motivate our behavior. For example, sadness is an emotion capable of slowing down us down physically and mentally. This allows us to reflect on the source of our emotional upset. In contrast, anger speeds us up and mobilizes intense energy. While evolutionary, this geared us up for a fight; in modern times, it allows the sustained energy for a fight of a different nature. Anger gives us cues that our rights have been violated and helps us utilize our energies to protect against future threats.

Be an Emotion-coaching Parent

Since our childhood, we have been told to curb our feelings. Our teachers and parents were continuously saying things like don’t cry, you’re too old for that”, “if you’re angry, hold it in” or the too-common “you make a big deal out of everything.” Such statements inhibit us from developing a better understanding of our emotions.

Dr. Gottman pointed out five steps of Emotion Coaching. He also indicated that emotion-coaching parents only followed all five steps 20-25% of the time. So, there is no need for guilt as no parent can complete this process all the time.

Step 1: Be aware of your own and child’s emotions. Make them realize that feeling sadness or anger is not bad.

Step 2: See emotions as an opportunity for connection and teaching. Do not consider dealing your children’s emotion a challenge or a burden but make it an opportunity to talk to them. Connect with them. Talk about how do they feel when they are experiencing certain emotion and help them deal with it. For instance, if your child is having trouble controlling anger, teach them how to control it. Anger is a normal and useful emotion. All we need is just to tell them how to utilize their energy in a positive way. Start with yourself, your calm presence, even when he/he is mad, helps your child feel safe. Don’t send your child away to “calm down” by themselves. Instead, help him/her calm down, you could encourage your child to count to 10, walk away from the situation or breathe slowly and deeply when feeling anger.

Step 3: Listen and validate the feelings. Listen to them with full attention. Accept their feeling and make them realize that, it is not to be ashamed to feel your emotion. When you listen to them attentively, they will be encouraged to share their deeper feelings with you.

Step 4: Label their emotions. After listening to them carefully and having them realize their own emotion, give each emotion a name. This way they will understand the true meaning of each emotion and will be able to classify each emotion in a better way. It expands their vocabulary and helps the expression of their own emotions and develops understanding & empathy of others’ emotions as well.

Step 5: Help your child problem-solve with limits. It is important that they realize that all emotions are acceptable but all behaviors are not. Set limits of expression of emotions. You should communicate clearly about what is to be expected from them, when they are feeling angry or sad. This can be done through modeling. Children tend to imitate their parents; they will do exactly the same what their parents do in the same situation.

Using Storytelling technique to develop EQ

Another very effective technique is Storytelling. “Kids learn to understand the social world through storytelling—it helps them relate to a situation and learn how to handle events and emotions,” says Marilyn Chapman, a professor at the University of British Columbia in the faculty of education. “It’s a powerful way for them to learn to contextualize situations. In kindergarten, it’s learning to be aware of their feelings, to express those feelings, to be able to get along with other kids, to share, to be responsible—we do a lot of that.” So, spend time storytelling to your child.

Emotional intelligence is the key that opens the door to better relationships between children and their family and peers. It also can give them a more balanced perspective on life and a better chance of reaching their potential in school.

At the end of the day, knowing how to manage and understand our own emotions give us an exceptional ability to improve learning, concentration, memory, controlling frustration, etc.

“The ability to express one’s own feelings constitutes a fundamental social skill.”-Daniel Goleman-


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1 Comment

  1. Shareefa Basyyoni
    Shareefa Basyyoni says

    This really came at the perfect time. I’m struggling with one of my grandchildren and this is a day of sunshine in my clouds. I am really going to try more to tell stories and find books for children that are specific for feelings and behavior.

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