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Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is defined as the ability to perceive, apply, understand, manage, and handle emotions.

Research shows that people with strong emotional intelligence are more likely to succeed in leadership and high-performance based roles than those blessed with high IQ’s or relevant experience. Those with high EQ work well with a wide variety of people and are able to respond effectively to the rapidly changing conditions in the world. 

There are five components of emotional intelligence, and they cover both internal and external indicators that determine how we think about ourselves and how we think about and act towards others.

The stronger a person is in each of these areas, the better chances they have of achieving greatness in most situations.

The three internal indicators of emotional intelligence applicable to self are:

1. Self-awareness – the ability to recognise and understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others.

2. Self-regulation – the ability to control or redirect disruptive emotions, impulses and moods, and the ability to manage judgement and think before acting. It is your ability to influence your emotions. 

3. Motivation – the higher purpose that goes beyond the external drive for achievement, but also the internal drive or ability to pursue goals with energy and persistence.

Externally, there are two additional indicators of emotional intelligence, which is what goes on between you and others.

4. Social-awareness – The ability to understand the emotional characteristics of other people and how your words and actions affect others.

5. Social-regulation – Social regulations protect public interests such as health, safety, the environment and social cohesion. Sociologists define social control as the way that the norms, rules, laws and structures of society regulate human behaviour. Social-regulation is a necessary part of social order – societies could not exist without controlling their populations.

So how can we build our children’s EQ?

  • Name, acknowledge and talk about emotions

Bring to your child’s awareness that emotions are everywhere. Commenting on characters when watching a show together (“Wow, he really looks angry”) is a simple way to get the conversation around emotions going. Naming the emotions we see them having, or ones we are experiencing ourselves, helps children learn to acknowledge their emotions.

Nothing feels worse than someone dismissing our emotions. Responding to your child’s tantrums by saying something like “I know you’re angry, do you want to talk about it?” is a more effective response than “What’s wrong now?” If you want to help them develop emotional regulation skills, we need to acknowledge their feelings.

  • Encourage empathy

Empathy is a difficult skill to develop in both children and adults. It refers to the ability to feel or imagine someone else’s pain and to offer help. Showing empathy does not mean you agree with your child’s behaviour. It simply means being able to understand their feelings or behaviour from their point of view.

  • Focus on the behaviour you want to see more of

It is common to focus on your child’s inappropriate behaviour in an attempt to reduce that behaviour. But did you know that the more you focus on that behaviour, the more you reinforce it? So concentrate on the behaviour you want to see more of. Focusing on positive emotions can build your child’s physical, intellectual, psychological and social resources, and also support them during difficult times.

  • Learn coping mechanisms

Getting away from one’s emotional triggers is one of the most common emotional regulation strategies. Our children learn to react to emotions by watching how we react to ours. Brainstorming together acceptable ways of reacting to emotions and asking them the different ways they can react to an incident in the future, also helps. And when we get it wrong, do the same of course. 

  • Do not shield them from emotional turmoil 

Social conflict provides an opportunity for parents to talk about emotions. In families where little dispute happens, kids learn less about emotional regulation. Shielding your child from difficult emotions doesn’t help strengthen their emotional intelligence. So as hard as it is, use these times as opportunities for learning. 

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Types of Intelligence Characteristics Learning Tools 
Linguistic
  • Ability to use oral and written language correctly. 
  • Good memory
  • Writing and narrating
  • Commenting on events 
  • Speeches 
  • Debate 
Logical – Mathematical 
  • Ability to solve mathematical calculations
  • Solving logical problems 
  • Experiments
  • Puzzle games 
  • Creating charts 
  • Categorisation of concepts 
Bodily – Kinesthetic
  • Ability to use the body as a means to convey meaning
  • Kinetic skills 
  • Kinesis synchronisation 
  • Physical memory 
  • Sports 
  • Dance
  • Theatrical games 
  • Dramatisation 
  • Sculpture 
Musical
  • Musical sensitivity
  • Ability to recognise and synthesise musical patterns 
  • Rhythm recognition
  • Use of musical instruments 
  • Singing 
  • Musical toys 
Spatial
  • Ability of spatial representations 
  • Good orientation 
  • Visual memory 
  • Charts and maps 
  • Art – Drawing 
  • Visual representation of concepts 
  • Sculpture 
Interpersonal
  • Ability to recognise and understand the intentions and desires of other people 
  • Collaborative activities 
  • Discussion 
  • Theatrical games 
  • Dramatisation 
Intrapersonal 
  • Ability to understand oneself 
  • Can identify your own weaknesses and strengths 
  • Self-awareness and self-concentration exercises
  • Projects 
  • Individual tasks 
Naturalist 
  • Ability to connect with the natural environment and protect it 
  • Love and interest for the different forms of life on the planet 
  • Actions – field trips 
  • Projects 
  • Labs 
  • Arts