People Smarts: How to Raise Emotionally Intelligent Children
Technical skills and book smarts are key elements to raising well-rounded children, but they aren’t the only indicators of long-term success. According to Harvard Business School, 71% of employers value emotional intelligence (often called EI or EQ) over IQ. In this blog, we will define emotional intelligence, explain why it’s so important, and offer practical tips for nurturing EI at home.
First coined by researchers John Mayer and Peter Salovey in 1990, the term emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage your emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you. A foundation of emotional intelligence empowers children to understand their feelings from an early age, control their reactions in all types of situations, and develop meaningful relationships with peers and academic and professional mentors alike.
It sounds great in theory, but how do we teach emotional intelligence to children in the real world? This four-step process is a good place to start:
1) Develop self-awareness
Self-awareness is about understanding your emotional tendencies, thought patterns, and strengths and weaknesses. One of the simplest ways to develop self-awareness in children is to discuss their emotions with them.
Key question: How do you feel when ______?
2) Practice self-management
While self-awareness is about noticing and understanding one’s own emotions, self-management is about learning to control those emotions. In stressful situations, our reactions tend to be fast and automatic. A great place to start is to make a habit of pausing and collecting ourselves before reacting.
Key behavior: Take a long, deep breath before responding in difficult situations.
3) Develop social awareness
Social awareness is similar to empathy, or one’s ability to “read a room.” It enables children to navigate complex social interactions in a respectful and effective manner, and plays a pivotal role in both personal and professional success. Try asking your child how they believe their actions impact those around them.
Key question: How do you think it makes _______ feel when you ______?
4) Practice relationship management
Relationship management skills are essential for building and maintaining positive, meaningful connections with others. A simple way to improve our relationships and become more empathetic is to actively practice listening. When conversing with others, we often think about what we are going to say next, rather than truly listening to the other person.
Key behavior: When speaking with family members, try to focus completely on their words, not your own thoughts about what to say next.
By embracing these principles at home, you can nurture children who aren’t just academically smart, but emotionally brilliant. From the classroom to the boardroom, focusing on “people smarts” will help build a brighter future for all.