For many parents, emotional intelligence is a challenging concept to navigate.
Emotional intelligence is described as “the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”
The ability to recognise emotions, understand what they’re telling you and work out how they can affect others can be difficult to teach, especially in young children. But emotional intelligence is a vital life skill. While much has been written about academic intelligence or intellect and its importance for a successful life, emotional intelligence is equally as important as it is key to relating well to others and achieving personal goals.
There are a number of reasons why emotional intelligence matters:
A lack of emotional intelligence can affect your relationships with other people. Life happiness is built around successful and rewarding relationships with others. Emotional intelligence culminates in the capacity to relate well with others.
Developing a sense of self-awareness is important for controlling emotions. Children are less likely to act out if they are able to understand their emotions and regulate them.
3. Manage stress
Being able to manage stress is an important life skill – personally, professionally and in study situations.
Research indicates that high levels of emotional intelligence is a key attribute of effective leaders. Many employers analyse the emotional intelligence of staff members to determine their leadership potential. While academic background and success, qualifications and experience are necessary for climbing the corporate ladder, we cannot underestimate the power that emotional intelligence lends to developing happy and productive individuals and teams.
Employees who possess weak emotional intelligence such as insensitivity, arrogance, volatility, rigidity and selfishness, risk compromising their career potential.
While it’s important to recognise that emotional intelligence matters, we must also look at ways we can improve emotional intelligence in children. Here are four simple tasks that you can do with your child to strengthen emotional intelligence.
Read books with your child to open up a dialogue about emotions and how we can appropriately deal with them. The Feelings Book by Dr Lynda Madison and In my heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek are great examples.
Encourage your child to read emotions in other people. You can refer to illustrations in books, characters in books or even real-life situations that your child has experienced or witnessed during the day. Ask questions such as “how do you think that person is feeling” or “how would you feel if ...”
A fun way to instil emotional intelligence in your child is to work with him to develop his own special emotional toolbox – a kit of resources he can call upon to deal with certain emotions. For example, when he is feeling angry he can take a deep breath, count to ten or walk away from confrontational situations. Or when feeling upset he can hug a special toy. When your child is struggling to cope with the enormity of his emotions, remind him about the special tools he has available.
4. Physical activities
Help your child to connect with mindfulness activities to regulate stress and moods. Gentle exercises that require your child to take stock of his surroundings can connect him with his senses and the present moment. For example, listening to the waves, feeling the breeze, feeling wet dew on the grass.
At Trinity Grammar School, every boy known and guided to grow in mind, body. Emotional intelligence and academic intellect are valued in equal measure. We encourage boys to remember that one single test score does not define them as a person. Being able to appropriate deal with success and failure will be a helpful tool for living a life of purpose.
To find out more about how Trinity inspires boys to realise their potential, passions and purpose in life, download our Prospectus.