3 Key Skills of Emotional Intelligence and why Your Child Needs Them

‘Emotions drive learning, decision-making, creativity, relationships, and health.’

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence means a person can manage their emotions, communicate those emotions effectively, resolve conflict non-violently, and make responsible decisions.

Emotional intelligence consists of 3 primary skills:

  1. Using emotions effectively – Emotionally intelligent people use their emotions to help them think and problem solve in school and at work.
  2. Identifying emotions properly – Emotionally intelligent people are able to accurately identify the feelings of themselves and others, which means they can read situations and relationships.
  3. Regulating emotions skilfully – Emotionally intelligent people can harness their own emotions, and also use their empathetic responses to other people in helpful ways.

These skills are especially important for kids to learn early on, as they have a significant impact not just on their education, but their lives as a whole.

Why is emotional intelligence important?

According to Marc Brackett, a senior research scientist in psychology at Yale University, research has shown us that “emotions can either enhance or hinder your ability to learn,” which impacts attention and memory function. If a student is anxious or agitated, they may not be able to focus on what is being taught. Brackett points out that:

“School is an emotional cauldron: a constant stream of academic and social challenges that can generate feelings ranging from loneliness to excitement.”

He believes that parents and teachers often times assume that kids have an innate ability to cope with these stresses, which is often untrue. Kids must be taught the skills needed to confront emotions and handle them properly.

 What are the benefits of teaching social and emotional learning?

  • Improved academic performance
  • Positive social behaviors
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Less emotional distress
  • Reduced violence and aggression
  • Future success
  • Improved physical health

How parents can help

Practice what you preach – Children seeing their parents displaying healthy communication and emotional skills will prompt them to do the same.

Talk about your kids’ feelings – If a child is experiencing a strong emotion, whether it be anger or frustration, take the time to ask them exactly how they feel, teach them it’s OK to feel that way, and then help them manage that feeling.

Talk about your feelings – Don’t be afraid to show your child that you also experience different moods and emotions. Take the time to speak out loud about what you’re feeling to help him or her identify when others are feeling that way in the future.

Don’t be general – There are so many other emotions aside from just ‘happy’ or ‘sad.’ Teaching children to verbalize exactly what they’re feeling—anxious, agitated, disappointed—will help them effectively communicate their emotions and better handle them.

Validate their feelings – Even if a child is having a total meltdown, it’s good to say something like, “I understand that you’re frustrated we can’t go swimming now, and it’s OK to feel that way.” This way your child knows they’re understood.

Teach empathy – It’s not always easy for kids to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and see their point of view. You can help kids see what compassion looks like by practicing it yourself.

Adapted from: http://ei.yale.edu ; http://www.learningliftoff.com