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Can You Help Your Child Become Emotionally Intelligent?

Can you help your child become emotionally intelligent?
Child Development, Elementary School, Middle School, Preschool, Rippowam Cisqua School

Can You Help Your Child Become Emotionally Intelligent?

On April 16, Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Dr. Marc Brackett will lead a lecture at Rippowam Cisqua School on the importance of nurturing the social-emotional development of children from their preschool through middle school years. While there is universal agreement on the importance of developing academic intelligence (IQ) in children, decades of research is fast proving that emotional intelligence (EQ) is just as vital in child development.

Renowned author and psychologist Daniel Goleman goes further in his assertions about IQ vs EQ and writes, “compared to IQ and expertise, emotional competence matters twice as much.” We’ll find out more about the interplay between IQ and EQ on April 16 from Dr. Brackett, but researchers and educators agree higher EQ positively impacts academic achievement and long term personal and professional success. When children are taught these skills early and often, they perform better academically, enjoy better mental and physical health, and make better decisions for their future.

Can emotional intelligence be taught to children?

Let’s rewind and define EQ. Emotional intelligence is generally defined as one’s ability to understand, manage, and harness their emotions while recognizing the same in others. Watch this explainer video for a comprehensive recap on EQ and its five main characteristics.

Emotional intelligence may sound rather abstract when talking about child behavior. When we think about cultivating emotional intelligence in children, we’re looking to teach skills such as learning how to share, how to listen to others, how to negotiate, and how to demonstrate self-control. These skills don’t just develop naturally as your child grows; they’re learned with the support and guidance of adults. Parents and teachers can help facilitate these skills by helping children understand their feelings and the feelings of others and by being positive role models.

How important are these soft skills?

Parents often demand high academic focus in early childhood education and this only intensifies as students age. However, emotional self-regulation is a critical but often overlooked component of a child’s educational experience. Self-control, one piece of emotional intelligence, is particularly important in predicting achievement in students. Children who are able to inhibit impulses (often driven by emotions) and avoid distractions are able to engage in more prosocial behaviors and accomplish their goals, according to research by The Gottman Institute.

Professor Rebecca Marcon from the University of North Florida told Business Week, “Students trained in social and emotional skills perform better in future school years. Boys who attend kindergarten programs that focus on social and emotional skills – as opposed to only academic learning – perform better, across the board, by the time they reach middle school.”

A study conducted over three decades in New Zealand followed 1,000 children from birth to age 32. They found that children who have high levels of self-control at age five become healthier and more successful adults. The researchers report that self-control predicts success better than IQ, socio-economic status, or family environment. Children who were rated high in self-control by age five grew up to become healthier adults with higher incomes and were less likely to have criminal records or issues with addiction.

Moreover, children with high self-control have the skill to manage their behavior and emotions to achieve a longer-term goal. You can see it at work when a child is able to delay gratification, push through frustrations, wait patiently to take their turn, and control of their emotional outbursts. Most children master self-control by the time they are ten years old. However, today the world thrives on delivering instant gratification. This tests the ability to exert self-control on a daily basis making it imperative that students learn these critical lessons early and often at home and at school.

EQ as a proxy for leadership

Emotional intelligence also presents as a strong indicator for successful leaders no matter the gender. In the Harvard Business Review, Dr. Goleman writes:

The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.

Girls also need to seize the opportunity and use their emotional intelligence skills to take the lead. In some ways, girls are hardwired towards being expressive and building meaningful relationships. Society nurtures this instinctbut that doesn’t mean girls are naturally good at it or have a predetermined advantage. It just means that all genders are capable of turning EQ into a powerful tool for growth if taught how.

How can we teach emotional intelligence?

Parents, caregivers, and educators all play an essential role in influencing children to learn the skills needed to be successful and healthy adults. Start by exposing them to positive experiences and by understanding that a child’s emotions are important, and negative emotions should be valued as a learning experience.

Dr. John Gottman of The Gottman Institute recommends these five steps to help increase your child’s emotional intelligence:


Beyond the five steps

Remember emotional intelligence is a learned skill and parents might need a primer or refresher course. Rippowam Cisqua School parents have access to an abundance of resources including RippTalks hosted by our school counseling team, our amazing faculty who specialize in the social-emotional development of PreK-Grade 9 students, and our upcoming event on April 16 entitled Emotions Matter: How Emotional Intelligence Drives Students to Become Exceptional Learners, Communicators, and Leaders where Dr. Brackett will discuss:

  • How to nurture and cultivate the five stages of emotional intelligence
  • How EQ skills transfer to any academic, professional, or personal environmentparticularly leadership roles
  • Why students need (and crave) environments where emotions are readily engaged with, appreciated, discussed, and valued as key components of learning
  • How parents can develop these skills for themselves so they can role model and spark an emotional revolution at home

This event is part of Rippowam Cisqua Schools Foundations of
Education Series, which is free and open to the public. RSVP and invite a friend.

About the author: Lori Adelsberg is an Admissions Associate at Rippowam Cisqua School in Bedford, New York. During her 14 years in this role, she has worked with over a thousand families and has had the pleasure of getting to know many wonderful children and their parents as they go through the admissions process. Lori is married with two children.

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