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What Does Emotional Intelligence Mean For Kids?


Consider this scenario: Your kid is struggling with his math homework. Instead of yelling and giving up, he tells you how frustrated he feels about the task at hand- all while asking for help! Or this one: Your child’s friend cancels their plans because they received some upsetting news; your little one understands why now might not be a great time to hang out as others do that didn't affect them personally (and makes other arrangements).


These responses might not seem like a big deal. But they’re signs of an important set of skills that make up what's known as "emotional intelligence" (EI). This type or intelligence isn't measured by IQ tests and yet it can help us work through challenges, respond successfully in situations with people around us--and even create positive connections for ourselves!


It's important to understand that just because your child has a specific learning or thinking style doesn't mean they can never develop emotional intelligence. However, certain characteristics make it harder for them - so you need some help! Learn more about EI and ways parents like me have found success helping our kids build this key ability in their lives.


What is Emotional Intelligence?


Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be smart about feelings—our own and other people's. It involves noticing, understanding and acting on emotions in an effective way.


Emotional intelligence is a concept that has been around for decades. The 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman described five basic parts of EI and how it can help people in various aspects of life. Those five concepts being:


  1. Self-Regulation is the ability to control one's emotions in a healthy manner. He reflects on possible consequences before acting impulsively or emotionally, considering all factors.

  2. Social Skills - He can manage relationships. He knows what kind of behaviors get a positive response from others, and he's very good at it!

  3. Self-awareness is the knowledge that one has about themselves. It's knowing how you're feeling, at any given moment in time. Self-aware people can understand that their moods affect others around them.

  4. Motivation: He's able to reach his goals in spite of the negative/distracting feelings he may be experiencing.

  5. Empathy: Being able to put themselves in another person's shoes and understand what they are going through, and how the are feeling.

Things You Can Do At home To Help Improve Your Childs EI


Talk about their challenges. Ask him how he is feeling when he’s struggling with something. Help him put a name to his emotions: angry, overwhelmed, sad, etc. Then ask why he feels the emotion he just named.


Practice Strategies. Try brainstorming ways he could have done something differently to receive a different outcome. Controlling emotions in order to come up with solutions is a huge part of emotional Intelligence.


Involve Your Child When Helping Others. Having your child join you in taking care of others in need is an excellent way to encourage empathy. Join a volunteer effort, or just bring them along when taking food to a sick neighbor.