Tips for Parents to Help Children Develop Emotional Intelligence

By Carolina Masini,

Have you ever heard about “emotional intelligence”? Do you think it is important for children to develop their emotional intelligence?

Dr. Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of the book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ (1996), describes Emotional Intelligence (EI) as how well we handle ourselves and our relationships through our “ability to identify, evaluate, control and express emotions”

Goleman separates EI in four domains: Self-awareness that is knowing what we’re feeling, why we’re feeling it; Self-management which means handling your distressing emotions in an effective way so they don’t cripple you; Empathy which is knowing what someone else is feeling and lastly putting all together in skilled relationship. Moreover, he emphasizes how important it is for schools to teach EI regularly and in a systematic way. Goleman explains that the part of the brain circuitry supporting emotional and social intelligence is the last to become anatomically mature, and it shapes itself according to repeated experiences.

A massive survey conducted by Roger Weissberg, who directs the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago showed that SEL programs generate a strong benefit in student’s academic accomplishment, as seen through improved test results and grade-point averages. Secondly, the SEL programs also increased school safety, resulting in a drop of incidents of misbehavior by an average of 28 percent; suspensions by 44 percent; and other disciplinary actions by 27 percent. Furthermore, attendance rates rose and 63 percent of students demonstrated significantly more positive behavior. These remarkable results show that SEL significantly impacts our children’s behavior.

Here are some tips for parents who want to develop their child’s Emotional Intelligence. First, acknowledge your child’s perspective and empathize, even if you don’t agree with it. Simply being understood helps your child let go of troubling emotions. Secondly, allow expressions of emotion from your child, rather than denying or minimizing them. This will help your children accept their emotions, and will make them feel that they are not alone. Lastly, listen to your child’s feelings and teach them to problem solve. Sometimes, kids can handle their problems, what they may need is only your help to brainstorm solutions.

All children experience a myriad of feelings on a daily basis and most of the time they can’t put their deeper emotions into words. As parents, you should pay attention to your child’s emotions, listen, show that you understand, and guide them to solve their own problems.

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