Developing your child's EQ

Developing your child's EQ - tots to teens

Help your child learn to develop not only their academic intelligence, but also their emotional intelligence, as new research indicates that this is becoming more of an indicator of success and long-term happiness than previously given credit for.

It used to be that our IQ was the definitive measure of success. However, more and more employers and clients look for our ability to be able to mix with a wide range of people, to listen to the needs of our customers or be able to read people and their actions. To know how to do all of that, we need to have a well developed ‘emotional intelligence’ or EQ (emotional quotient) as it’s come to be known. The concept of needing a strong and positive EQ comes from Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence model that is based around the concept that people are not just intelligent in one area (such as logic and reason which is what IQ tests normally measure), but have a range of intelligences including creativity, language, understanding nature and social skills. EQ refers in the main to our talent or intelligence in identifying and working with our own emotions, as well as those of others. Someone with a highly-developed EQ is likely to understand themselves and others, relate to a wide range of people, be quick to accurately read the needs of the people they are relating to or working with, and cope better with the difficulties they may be faced with in their lives.

It is necessary for parents to teach children how to manage their emotions. Ideally, parents should be aware of their child’s emotions and use them as an opportunity for learning and intimacy. Listen empathetically to your child and help them explore solutions to their problems.

To help your child develop their EQ, try the following:

  • Talk about your feelings as a family. This isn’t about letting our children emote all over the place but rather, it’s about teaching them to identify their own feelings so they can manage them. Use three-word sentences that start with “I feel”. For example, I feel angry or I feel sad. This is about not pointing a finger of blame at another person, but instead, identifying and labelling the feelings they
    have when something happens.
  • Teach children to take responsibility for
    their own feelings. This is tricky as children instinctively want to blame someone else for their anger or sadness. Instead of saying “You are annoying me, stop it”, encourage your child to say “I feel angry”. This still warns the other child of a potential consequence of their continued annoying behaviour, but does
    not escalate the issue.
  • Encourage children to listen to their own feelings when making decisions or setting goals. We tend to put energy into the things we feel positive about. Find a way to harness positive energy to get jobs or work done.
    A happy heart has a lot of energy to
    complete a task.
  • Teach them the energy of “negative” emotions. For instance, fear of public speaking can be harnessed to be an outstanding public speaker. Use the energy from it. If a child is angry, they can learn to use the anger to energise themselves out of an angry situation.
  • Encourage them to empathise with others.
    If they learn to seek first to understand another’s actions, then they are able to change their reactions to them, and adapt their behaviour to get a better result. This
    is a great thing for us parents to do too. A 3-year-old’s temper tantrum, when understood to be as a result of fear, hunger or tiredness,
    is easily solved.

Our emotions can actually propel us, direct us and empower us far further than we give them credit for. Spend time teaching your children to identify their own emotions and how to deal with them, and you’ll have children who know how to use their own developing Emotional Intelligence to get them places.



  • Give plenty of physical affection at this stage, and verbally label feelings when they arise.
  • Use physical actions to demonstrate your own feelings in front of the child (such as stomping when you are angry, or skipping when you are happy).

5- to 8-years

  • Give children at this age time to regain control when upset. Time out is not a punishment, but a time to calm down and become relaxed enough to think clearly. It’s about learning to manage emotions and discuss issues when in a more self-controlled state. Tell them they can return when “they have self-control again.”
  • Encourage them to think about how others might be feeling. Ask them to put themselves in the other person’s  situation and think how they might feel if they were that person. This is teaching them empathy.

9- to 12-years

  • Provide opportunities to care for younger children. If they are the youngest, or an only child, seek out friends’ children to care for. Children often make allowances for younger children, so it’s a great way to develop more positive social skills if needed.
  • Ask them to contribute to the running of the family through chores and responsibility, and focus on natural consequences (such as missing out on an outing) if they don’t do it.

Talk about your feelings as a family. This isn’t about letting our children emote all over the place but rather, it’s about teaching them to identify their own feelings so they can manage them.

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