The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Children
The Importance of Emotional Intelligence
The ability to understand and manage emotions is called emotional intelligence. As adults, emotional intelligence can help in social interactions and is even linked to varying degrees of success. What about children? Emotional intelligence can be difficult to understand, even as adults and many teachers and educators are suggesting that young children be taught the basic concepts of emotional intelligence to prepare them for their future.
Areas of Emotional Intelligence to Focus On
The key components of emotional intelligence consist of:
- Social skills
These areas represent the fundamentals of emotional intelligence. As children (and adults) each component can be assessed, and the skills improved to promote growth in our emotional intelligence.
Children should be taught the basics of emotional intelligence. Why? Research has shown that those who are emotionally intelligent do better in both school and work. Skills such as communication and coping with stress are becoming highly sought-after traits in the workforce. Emotionally intelligent people are better able to cope with difficult situations and people while performing at a highly successful rate both at work and in school.
Emotional intelligence does not only involve the emotions of your child; it involves the emotions of others in your child’s life. By gaining emotional intelligence, they can understand how others are feeling and can improve the quality of their social interactions. Emotional intelligence helps the child relate to those around them – a skill needed for their entire life.
How do I Teach My Child?
Children can be taught emotional intelligence. The first step is to help them name the emotional they are feeling. Rather than suppress or ignore anger, frustration, over-the-top-joy, etc., ask your child how they are feeling. By helping your child realize they are experiencing an emotion right now and what exactly it is, they begin to identify and acknowledge their feelings.
After you have practiced identifying feelings and emotions, try asking your child some questions such as “tell me the happiest moment of today.” Both children and adults experience a wide range of emotions throughout the day, and a question like this will help them reflect, recognize, and become aware of them.
The last thing you can do to help teach your child to recognize and understand both their emotions as well as other’s emotions is to lead by example. Explaining to your child how you feel and why you show them you too can recognize emotions – both positive and negative- and deal with them in a healthy manner.
Michelle Dell’Aquila, M.A.
Director of the CDA program
Michelle Dell’Aquila is a licensed therapist and the Director of Child Development Advice – an educational consulting agency.