To thrive in the 21st century, children need more than traditional academic learning. They must be good at collaboration, communication and problem-solving. Having a highly evolved EQ will equip children to be well-rounded adults who can succeed in the swiftly evolving global economy.
What is EQ?
Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ) is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically’. The idea of EQ became popular through author Daniel Goleman’s best-selling book Emotional Intelligence and is now widely acknowledged as equally important to IQ for achieving personal and professional success. The science and research behind EQ validated Goleman’s claims, and it was quickly incorporated into parenting techniques and educational curriculums.
The term EQ is now commonly linked to social intelligence. Author Daniel Goleman says that, ‘In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behaviour and impact other people (positively and negatively). Developing strong EQ is about learning how to manage emotions – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure.’ Being taught this skill from birth clearly has significant social benefits. Ultimately, when a child develops a strong EQ, the clearest indicator is the capacity to manage their own behaviour in positive and productive ways, rather than having to be constantly disciplined or rewarded by parents and/or teachers to encourage them to behave appropriately.
The Five Signs of High EQ
Research shows there are five main indicators of well developed EQ:
- Self-awareness Knowing our own emotions.
- Self Regulation Being able to regulate and control how we react to our emotions.
- Internal motivation Having a sense of what’s important in life.
- Empathy Understanding the emotions of others.
- Social skills Being able to build social connections.
Some children are more instinctively in tune with their EQ and will be ready to deal with new or different situations and people more easily. Others have a lower EQ from the start and need us to teach them in a more focused way. Regardless, all children need their EQ nurtured and supported as they grow and navigate new emotional experiences. As parents, this also means that we have to recognise and work on our own EQ strengths and weaknesses so we are modelling the best behaviour for our children. Here are some proven ways that your can build and develop your child’s EQ:
- Teach your child to recognise their emotions.
Once you help your children ‘name’ their own strong emotions, whether it be frustration, anger or disappointment, they can start being responsible for their feelings and the behaviour that goes with them. For very young children, this process is critical in giving them a language around feelings, as well as beginning to teach them about context – how what they are feeling and doing is affecting others. When they are feeling upset, ask them to describe what they are feeling or get them to draw it. Do it often so they get recognise emotion arising and teach them to name their own emotion. Make sure you include happy, joyful and positive emotions too, as these are equally important. Use flash cards or images depicting emotions to help your child describe how they are feeling. Teaching children the names of emotions and how they feel is a great way to both grow their vocabulary and their EQ.
- Model excellence in your own emotional awareness.
The best way to foster EQ for your children is to show through your own behaviour. As parents we are the primary source of how children learn. By using our own emotions as part of the lesson, we are also showing and telling children of our self-awareness. Tell your children how you are feeling and allow them to perceive it for themselves. We often only recognise our macro emotions when they spill over into our everyday life – like feeling disappointed, sad or angry. Your children will know when you are feeling any of these, and this is a perfect stage for you to demonstrate how you deal with your own big emotions and how you can move past anger or disappointment. Again, it is important to talk about the positive emotions, too. For example, you can say to your child ‘I am feeling so happy today because we are going on holiday.’ You are naming what it feels like and demonstrating how your emotions affect your behaviour.
As a parent, our own emotions can be triggered by something our child may have done (good or bad). One of the most important things to remember is not to blame your child for making you angry or sad – and make them feel responsible for your emotions. Ultimately, you are responsible for your reaction. This is invaluable to teach our children, however it is a hard concept for adults to understand and even harder for young children. The practise of mindfulness can help here, taking the time to stop and observe your feelings while they are arising, instead of instantly reacting. You can calmly verbalise you are feeling angry or frustrated, and how you are managing that feeling. By showing your children how to do this when you see that they are being overwhelmed by feelings, they can practise mindfulness as a way of self-awareness too. Once children know their own trigger points with you and others, it will be much easier for them to control their emotions.
- Measure the mood.
Emotions and mood are not just attached to the individual. Feelings and mood are part of space and place too. Your house is a great example of this, and the emotional landscape of your home can strongly contribute to the feelings of the people within it. If you are having a party at your house, the mood in it might be fun and joyful, or alternately stressed and anxious. On a Sunday morning before everyone is awake the house may be tranquil, calm and relaxed. You can discuss these differences with your children and take time for them to register and understand that sensing and identifying the impacts of mood and atmosphere can help them calm or control their own emotions. Allow them to recognise the different moods inside your house, discuss this with them and practise strategies together where you lift and shift a mood. You can go to the park, or take a nap if things feel too overexcited or if the mood is low you can play a fun uplifting game or sing a song – get them to suggest ways to measure and change the mood and do it together.
- Be an emotion detective.
Like your house, outside spaces have impacts on emotions and the corresponding behaviour. Going into a crowded shopping mall, or entering the playground of a new school will feel different from being in the park with a friend. Talk to your children about the different moods they feel in all of the places they go. Research on developing EQ in your child has shown that the best strategy is to integrate the experience of learning about EQ in all aspects of their life. The seasons are a great way to illustrate this – a sunny, warm day will feel different to a rainy, cold day and those differences will be experienced differently between people. You can get your child to draw how they feel in summer or winter, in the snow or at the pool. You can contrast your own emotions and experience about summer and winter, and then get their grandparents to do the same.
This type of exercise grows empathy and reinforces the understanding that we all experience things differently by using commonly understood themes. Try this activity with new and familiar places you go and at different times. Some great examples are at the supermarket, in the movies, at kindergarten, in the park. Encourage your child to be a mood detective and identify what feelings and emotions they pick up from a place, and the people they observe there. Ask them to guess how someone is feeling and identify what clues they have seen to that person’s emotion and moods – then get them to describe how they might help that person. By making this a fun game, you can subtly incorporate all five of the key EQ indicators.
- Make emotional awareness a daily practise
Building emotional intelligence in your child is the foundation of a lifelong investment in their health and happiness. It is important as a parent to not let this make you feel overwhelmed, and to realise that we are all learning how to be more emotionally aware, whether we are 3 or 33! The good news is that this is a process that is done incrementally, and making it a daily practise with your child and family, you can create a loving space for children to explore their emotions as they grow. Little daily actions such as ending each day at bedtime identifying what was great and what was hard about the day and how that made the child feel enables a safe dialogue about feelings and validates the child’s feelings and experience. As a parent you can suggest ways of trying to manage situations next time, identify where your child needs support, and where they are becoming emotionally resilient. Celebrating and openly discussing feeling in your family from the day your child is born, while at the same time learning along with your child, is the best way to raise a child with a high EQ.
Studies Prove Learning EQ Gives Your Child a Head Start in Life.
A major review of 82 research studies involving about 100,000 students undertaken by the University of Illinois at Chicago, CASEL, Loyola University, and the University of British Columbia found that children exposed to social and emotional learning to grow their EQ continued to do better than their peers up to 18 years after they finished school academically, professionally and socially. As teens and adults, children that had been taught EQ were also found to have fewer personal problems, less emotional distress, and lower drug use. Building EQ from early life will help your child grow up to be a good manager, or a good leader, be able to contribute to a team environment personally and professionally and more importantly, have the ability to develop strong, connected relationships throughout life.
Give Your Child Incredible Beginnings with RoyalABC.
One of the key messages for parents from decades of research about EQ is the critical importance of integration – it needs to be practised in all your child’s environments, including in the classroom, in non-class activities like sports and music, in social situations outside the classroom such as learning centres, and at home with parents and grandparents. This approach ensures the ‘whole child’ is educated, with each interaction contributing to their EQ. Choosing the right early learning programme is critical to ensure that social and emotional learning are embedded in the curriculum, and that the teachers are trained to deliver lessons that support and grow your child’s developing EQ. RoyalABC is the only early learning language programme available in China where EQ is an integral part of the learning ecosystem. With robust teacher training, hundreds of hours of online and offline content developed by SEL and EQ experts, and an at home app for parents to extend the in-classroom experience, your child is exposed to EQ at every opportunity. In the RoyalABC British English programme, parents and teachers are supported with the exact educational tools needed to create a well-rounded child and to help you give your precious child an incredible beginning.