Are You Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child?
By Marie Roker
Although many parents are concerned with our children's intelligence
quotient (IQ), research shows that a child's emotional quotient (EQ)
is just as important for that child's personal success. So what is
Emotional Intelligence? Emotional quotient is your child's ability
to feel, while intelligence quotient is your child's ability to
think. Although the term was coined in 1990 by psychologists Peter
Salovey and John Mayer, the person responsible for bringing more
awareness to emotional intelligence is a science writer Daniel
Mr Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence brought to light the
importance of a child's skill of awareness, empathy and ability to
manage emotions. Although there is some controversy regarding how
emotional intelligence plays a role in a child's life, there is
evidence of the value of emotional intelligence.
Two of the multiple intelligences of Dr. Howard Gardner are Inter
and Intra personal intelligence. Inter-personal Intelligence is the
ability to relate to and understand others. Intra personal
Intelligence is the ability to self reflect and understand inner
emotions and identify strengths and weaknesses. Emotional
intelligence combines the two intelligences and helps a child to
manage their feelings and emotions as well as empathize with the
feelings and emotions of others.
Should we be concerned about the emotional intelligence of our
children? Yes, because part of growing up to be responsible, healthy
and happy individuals is the ability to show respect, cooperate and
have empathy. We live in a society that inundates us with so much
technology that we sometimes forget the importance of human contact
and relationships. Children need to be able to understand their
feelings. We place so much emphasis on behavior, that we neglect the
underlying feelings that create these behaviors. Misbehavior is
sometimes caused by an unmet need. According to psychologist Abraham
Maslow, "people are motivated by their unsatisfied needs".
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs illustrates the five basic human
Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink,
shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order,
law, limits, stability, etc.
Belongingness and Love needs - work group, family,
affection, relationships, etc.
Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery,
independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial
Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential,
self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
Only when the lowest of the needs (#1) is met, can a person start
to move up toward fulfilling the other needs. For example, if your
child does not feel safe at home, your child can not be expected
to perform well in school (#3-Belongingness).
We also are not aware how our moods affect our children's moods.
If a parent is stressed and constantly annoyed, the child picks up
on that mood and starts to behave the same way. If we do not speak
to our children about their feelings, acknowledge their feelings and
validate their feelings, our children will not understand how to be
responsible for their own feelings and emotions.
When children have their emotional needs met, they are able to
make healthy decisions in life. Some of children's emotional needs
are to feel loved, safe, understood, valued, trusted, listened to,
worthy, appreciated, needed, important and motivated. To find out
what your child's emotional needs, think about how do you want your
child to feel and how you would like to create those feelings for
So how can you raise your child's emotional intelligence?
For starters with young children, as parents we can
demonstrate healthy ways of expressing our own emotions.
Use the word "I" to own the feeling. Start with I feel upset
when I am not heard.
Give the feeling a label for your child: "It looks
like you're sad because your friend could not come over and play."
Validate your child's feelings. Listen, nod your
head, use short comments to get them to continue talking. Do not
criticize or yell or your child will shut down.
Make eye contact and pay attention.
As your child grows, help them to understand different emotions
and why people react to certain circumstances.
Help your child to identify the following:
- How am I feeling right now?
- Why am I feeling this way?
- How would I like to feel?
The more you help your child understand his/her emotions, the
more your child will be able to control impulsive behavior and
cooperate with others.
Marie M. Roker is an Academic and Personal Development Coach who helps parents and children to discover and develop their strengths, talents and natural gifts. Visit her online at