Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a term I learned about a few years ago. According to Harvard Psychologist Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is a combination of five characteristics:

·self-awareness (the ability to recognize and identify a feeling)
·managing one's emotions (handling fear, anxiety, anger, sadness and worry in an appropriate and proportional way)
·self-motivation (involves emotional control, the ability to delay gratification,and the ability to keep working toward a goal, expecting success)
·empathy (recognition of and sensitivity to the emotions of others)
·handling relationships (learning to handle conflict constructively and getting along well with others)

Experts have found that a child’s future success in life is influenced 20% by IQ and 80% by their level of emotional intelligence. I’m sure that most of us have known people who are very intelligent in a cognitive sense but just can’t relate well to others. A child’s level of emotional intelligence will obviously play a huge role in the quality of relationships they are able to have with other people. This will affect their family, social, education and work lives in a significant way. So how do we go about teaching our children to be more emotionally intelligent? The characteristics above can be modeled by parents at home but we may need some extra help as well. I have come across some great children’s books which can help with teaching emotional intelligence.

Feelings by Aliki
Manners by Aliki
Old Henry by Joan W. Blos
Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis
Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tommie dePaola
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
How Are You Peeling? by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers
You Are Special by Max Lucado
Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier

I would also like to add a craft idea to help with teaching younger children emotional awareness. In the photo above you will see the feelings magnets we made. Each of my children has their own set and the magnets have helped to open up dialogue about their feelings during the day. The magnets are easy to make out of sheets of craft foam and self-adhesive magnets. You can copy the feelings faces I made with a permanent marker or come up with your own. The feelings faces from left to right and top to bottom are: happy, silly, surprised, angry, sick, scared, tired, and sad.

When Rosa came home from China a year ago, she quickly picked up the English words to describe her feelings. I wrote this entry in Rosa’s journal after she had been home for only six months. Rosa, you are already very good at expressing your feelings (sad, scared, angry, silly, etc.). When you are upset you like to say “angry, angry, angry”. I have told you that we are now your family, forever and ever and ever. You obviously picked up on the importance of the word “ever” because one day you were angry at Daddy because of something that had happened at church. He had left your Sunday school room to copy something for the teacher and did not bring you with him. You started to cry because you didn’t know where he had gone and on the way home from church you told me about what happened and said “angry, angry, angry, ever”. I guess you were really upset about that!

This incident really demonstrated to me how some children are just born more emotionally aware than other children. I can tell you from what we know of our daughter’s first four years, her feelings were not usually taken into much consideration. It has been amazing to see how quickly she has learned to express her feelings in a new language and how she relishes telling us exactly how she feels about things.

Daniel Goleman mentioned above who wrote the book “Emotional Intelligence” has his own blog where you can learn more about emotional intelligence at:

● Zundel, Irene H. “How Reading Improves a Child’s Emotional Intelligence” EduGuide 22 Oct. 2009. http://www.eduguide.org/Parents-Articles/How-Reading-Improves-a-Childs-Emotional-Intelligence-1220.aspx

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