How to Nurture Emotional Intelligence in Children

How to Nurture Emotional Intelligence in Children

Emotional intelligent people are more empathetic and compassionate and get along better with others / Photo by Toey Toey via Shutterstock


Today, more than ever, emotional intelligence is proving to be greatly significant, what with the rapidly rising records of school violence, bullying, mental health challenges, and teen suicides. It is imperative that schools integrate this in their curricula for children to learn, practice and master.

The term emotional intelligence was first coined in 1990 by psychologists Mayer and Salovey. Popularly known as EQ, it is the ability to distinguish emotions in oneself and other people, to appreciate their effect, and to apply that information in guiding thoughts and behaviors. Emotional intelligent people are more empathetic and compassionate and get along better with others. These traits make them likely to thrive better in contrast to their counterparts.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman identified five components of emotional intelligence:

• Self-awareness – knowing strengths and weaknesses and how to respond to situations and people. Emotionally intelligent people recognize the behaviors they want to change and the motivations that bring them fulfillment.

• Self-regulation – the ability to manage and control emotions as necessary. Emotionally intelligent people excel in dealing with conflict, adjusting better to change, and are more responsible.

• Motivation – a sense of purpose and enthusiasm to do well. Emotionally intelligent people focus on achieving self-gratification and are more committed to attaining a goal.

• Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, making a connection with others better. Emotionally intelligent people understand how and what influence relationships.

• Social skills – communicating and getting along well with other people. Emotionally intelligent people easily build rapport and genuinely interact with people through active listening and verbal and non-verbal communication skills.


How to Nurture Emotional Intelligence

The emotional well-being of every child is important to their academic success. They are better prepared to deal with anxiety and uncertainty, as they can talk about their feelings sensibly. Here is a list of strategies to help children nurture their emotional intelligence.

1. Acknowledge the child’s perspective and empathize.

A child is entitled to their own outlook. Acknowledge and understand their point of view. Feeling understood soothes and strengthens their neural pathway and this they will use to soothe themselves as they get older. Likewise, help the child to reflect on their experiences and what triggers their feelings. For young children, knowing the name of the feeling they are going through is already a tool to manage their emotion.

2. Allow expression and listen to the child’s feelings.

Accept the child’s emotions and let them express it out. Listen and be there for them. Resist the impulse to purge the upsetting feelings away. Let the natural course takes place: go through, engulf, and move away. Children tend to repulse their emotions to feel safe. Tantrums usually manifest to expel their emotions. Acceptance of the child’s emotions teaches that emotions are not shameful but in fact manageable. Your being with them and listening to their feelings will make them feel they are not alone and hence safe. They learn to trust their own emotional process that helps them deal with their emotions without repression.

3. Teach problem-solving

Teach the child not to wallow in their emotions. Just let it flow and breathe through them. Once they feel their emotions are understood, the rush of strong emotion gradually dissolves. This is the time to let them find constructive solutions to the problems. Assist them only if they ask for your help to show your confidence in them that they could resolve the concern themselves.

4. Play it out

Children experience different emotions every day. They get angry, scared, sad, happy, jealous, and pushed around. Children with high emotional intelligence handle these emotions with play. Laughter releases stress hormones and is a lot more fun.


Games and Toys for Emotional Intelligence in Children

The following are fun games and toys to teach children emotional intelligence.

- Conversational EQ Card Game is designed to train the brain for emotional intelligence. The game consists of 54 card decks depicting three types of emotions (I feel card or I think card, ask permission card, and an open question card) each with a number of coins on the back. Each player takes a card and represents the emotion depicted in the card. For example, if a child picks a feel or think card, they make a statement related to the emotion in the card like calm, angry, happy, etc. using “I feel” or “I think.” If the child draws an “ask permission” card, they start with “I feel” statement then ask permission from other players if they can share their thoughts and follow it through with “I think” statement. If they draw an “open question” card they start with an “I feel” statement then the player beside them pose an open-ended question about the statement they’ve made. Their answer should be an “I think” statement. The game ends when a player has reached the predetermined number of coins.

Emotional intelligent people are more empathetic and compassionate and get along better with others / Photo by Lordn via Shutterstock


- The Social and Emotional Competence Game features five sections: caring, communication, getting along, sharing feelings, and cooperating. Children answer the question in each card that aims to help them manage their emotions, problem-solve, empathize, and more.


- Learning Resources Emoji Cubes teach preschoolers and kindergarten children to express their emotions with Emoji Cube. Each side of the dice has either one of the 12 popular emojis that prompt statements or questions to spark emotional discussion, such as: “Name something that makes you calm or what makes you feel proud.” The aim is to help children relate to different emotions they and others feel.

- PleIQ Learning Cubes are eight toy blocks with each of their faces containing numbers, words, or symbols. Holding the cube up to a tablet camera sets off different stories, characters, and activities on the compatible PleIQ app to stimulate and develop different types of intelligence in kids. The children take on the role of a “guide” for the characters that turn up on the screen. They help the characters navigate different circumstances where they give advice and help build interpersonal EQ skills.