IQ vs EQ
Emotional Intelligence, or EQ (Emotional Quotient), refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Studies consistently show that emotional intelligence is much more important than IQ because it relates directly to happiness and success. Many highly intelligent adults struggle in day-to-day life due to a lack of emotional intelligence.
Making an effort to increase your child’s emotional intelligence is one of your most important tasks as a parent. Those with a higher level of emotional intelligence enjoy stronger, more fulfilling relationships, and more satisfying careers.
Emotional intelligence has five components:
- Self-regulation of emotional states: the ability to manage your moods appropriately and successfully.
- Motivation: being able to stay the course in spite of doubt and distractions.
- Empathy for others: the ability to recognize emotions and feelings in others and choose an appropriate course of action.
- Navigating relationships: the ability to engage in conflict resolution, treat others respectfully, and receive the same in return.
- Self-awareness: being able to recognize your own thoughts and emotions rationally and without judgment.
These five qualities are important in all aspects of life. Just as a child learns to read or do multiplication, it’s important to learn how to manage and recognize emotion in oneself and others.
These strategies can help you increase the emotional intelligence of your child:
- Teach your child about their emotions by recognizing and labeling them. Who doesn’t like to have their perspective recognized? Doing so will validate the way your child feels. Putting a label on the emotion provides some perspective to your child. For example: “You’re very excited about the summer break!” or “You’re disappointed that you can’t go out and play.”
- Help your child to recognize how they respond to stress. Some children cry, while others seek solitude. Your child might hit a sibling on the head with a toy. We all have our own ways of dealing with uncomfortable emotions. That may look like: “I’m noticing that you are crying, and your shoulders are up by your ears. I’m wondering if you are feeling frustrated and tired.” or “I’ve seen you go into your room when you’re feeling angry. Does alone time help you calm down?” Your child will start to associate certain emotions with their behaviors. This is an effective way of teaching a child to notice their emotional states.
- Encourage your child to share his emotions. If your child is angry, scared, or nervous, encourage him to discuss it. You might want to share circumstances when you felt the same emotion as a child. Providing your own examples allows your child to develop a broader perspective. Discussing their emotions with you will allow the emotions to pass. This is healthier than suppressing them.
- Encourage problem-solving behaviors when emotions run high. Teach your child that strong emotions are a sign of something that needs to be addressed, if possible. It’s more effective to work on a solution than it is to become more upset. Try: “It seems like you’re having a hard time with this math homework. How can we figure this out together?” or “Getting out the door in the morning is really tough for us. How can we make mornings smoother, so that we leave on time?”
- Be an example of emotional intelligence. Children learn many of their strategies for dealing with the world by observing their parents. Be an example worthy of imitating. There are many excellent books on emotional intelligence: Emotional Intelligence and EQ Applied: The Real World Guide to Emotional Intelligence are great places to start. In addition, therapy, support groups, and/or parent coaching can be incredibly useful in helping you understand your triggers and how to regulate your own feelings (and help your child regulate their own feelings).
Developing emotional intelligence enables us to manage emotions effectively and avoid being derailed, for example, by a flash of anger. Children with higher emotional intelligence are better able to pay attention, are more engaged in school, have more positive relationships, and are more empathic.