Many parents want to raise children that are good at any subject, from English to mathematics to science. This is why they tend to invest a lot in their education by sending them to prestigious schools or hiring tutors every weekend. For them, their children’s education will determine their success as they grow into adults.
However, many psychologists disagree. Studies show that parents need to focus on their children’s emotional intelligence (EQ) more than their intelligence quotient (IQ). Psychologist Daniel Goleman estimates that IQ makes up only 20% of the factors that determine life success. While cognitive skills such as reasoning and processing speed and verbal comprehension will greatly help kids academically, these will only get a person so far in life.
Goleman’s book titled “Emotional Intelligence” published in 1995 shows how important EQ is. Since then, many studies have proven that EQ indeed has huge impacts on the success of a person’s relationships, health, and quality of life. This explains why many experts want educational institutions to focus on a child’s EQ as they have been focusing their IQ. Six Seconds’ CEO Joshua Freedman, for instance, wants schools to approach social-emotional learning in a more systemic, developmental way.
“I would like to see schools treat it much like math or any other area where there are scopes and sequences. And we assess it, we focus on it, with time dedicated to it, and we don’t just do it for a couple of days here and there,” Freedman said.
Why EQ is Important
Korrel Kanoy, the author of “The Student EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Academic and Personal Success,” said that EQ is all about having “greater awareness of your emotions so that you can manage them more effectively.” Many psychologists argue that teaching EQ to children will benefit them because they learn to recognize their feelings, understand where they come from, and learn how to deal with those emotions.
According to HuffPost, an online site that delivers the latest breaking news and top stories across politics, entertainment, innovation, travel, food and life, EQ generally encompass four domains: a person’s self-awareness, their ability to self-manage, their social awareness, and their ability to manage relationships effectively. As kids learn more about their emotions and how to handle them, there’s a greater chance that they can achieve success in life.
A previous study revealed that EQ predicts over 54% of the variation in success, including relationships, effectiveness, health, and quality of life. Additional data has also shown that “young people with high EQ earn higher grades, stay in school, and make healthier choices." Research published in the American Journal of Public Health found that a child’s social and emotional skills may predict lifelong success.
As a kid grows into a teen and then an adult, their EQ would help them govern how they make decisions or harness their thoughts and feelings to solve problems, cope with stress, and pursue goals. This will help them in navigating all the social and emotional pitfalls of growing up. In Goleman’s book, he mentioned five components of EQ that would contribute to an individual’s success and sense of well-being.
These components include self-awareness (knowing our emotions), internal motivation (having a sense of what’s important in life), self-regulation (being able to regulate and control how we react to our emotions), empathy (understanding the emotions of others), and social skills (being able to build social connections). All of these can be learned and taught to children, fortunately. Experts have introduced several tools and techniques that can help parents and their kids in identifying and understanding the emotions of themselves as well as other people.
Another benefit of teaching EQ to children is that they could form better relationships with people. According to VeryWell Family, a modern resource that offers a realistic and friendly approach to pregnancy and parenting, EQ skills help kids manage conflict and develop deeper friendships. At the same time, they are less likely to experience depression and other mental illnesses.
Teaching Kids About EQ
Children have a lot of opportunities to learn about their emotions and understanding them. This is where the role of parents comes in. They can guide them about their feelings and understand why they are important.
1 – Help children increase their emotion vocabulary
To understand their emotions, children must learn how to identify them first. It’s important for parents to put a name to their feelings. For instance, they can say “It looks like you feel really angry right now. Is that right?” when their kid is upset. Researcher Lisa Barrett said helping students increase their emotional vocabulary can improve their interpersonal skills. If they can identify what they are feeling, they can surely express them.
2 – Teach children about mindfulness
One thing that parents can do to increase the EQ of their children is to start with mindfulness. Experts say that it can increase gray matter density in regions of the brain involved in emotional regulation. According to Psychology Today, an online site that features the latest from the world of psychology, previous studies revealed that mindfulness practice can help in reducing symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety in children.
3 – Storytelling can also help
Marilyn Chapman, a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia in the faculty of education, said that activities such as oral storytelling, dramatic play, role-playing with dolls, and more can help children relate to a situation and learn how to handle events and emotions.
“It’s a powerful way for them to learn to contextualize situations. In kindergarten, it’s learning to be aware of their own feelings, to express those feelings, to be able to get along with other kids, to share, to be responsible—we do a lot of that,” Chapman said.
4 – Teach children to regulate their emotions
Parents need to teach their kids how to manage uncomfortable emotions on their own. In this way, you can prepare them to effectively deal with challenges in the future. With practice, children can improve their capacity for emotional self-regulation. Learning to regulate their emotions can also help them understand the value of self-control. Experts said that kids who can inhibit impulses and avoid distractions can engage in more prosocial behaviors and accomplish their goals.