Educating for Emotional Intelligence
Several studies have found that people with higher Emotional Intelligence skills are more successful in school, have better relationships, and are less frequently involved in harmful behaviors. More and more, it becomes evident the need to train people who are aware of their emotions, who know how to manage them, and who understand what others are feeling, that is, with strong Emotional Intelligence. Our society needs more of these people, who are able to self-regulate and interact with others with empathy and respect - only then can we build a better society!
In addition, with the more mechanical professions being replaced by machines, the soft skills, linked to Emotional Intelligence, are being increasingly valued and considered irreplaceable by machines. This means that today's children will need to show even more emotional skills when applying for a job.
All these skills were given a name: Emotional Intelligence, that is, “the ability to monitor our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, to distinguish and label different emotions correctly, and to use emotional information to guide their thinking and behavior and influence that of others ”(Goleman, 1995; Mayer & Salovey, 1990).
How important is Emotional Intelligence?
An essential aspect that is influenced by Emotional Intelligence is mental health. On the one hand, several studies have shown that people with a higher EI have fewer psychological pathologies that are based on emotional disorders. Examples are depression (David, 2005; Hertel, Schutz, & Lammers, 2009), anxiety (David, 2005; O'Connor and Little, 2003), schizophrenia (Kee et al., 2009), Borderline disorder ( Gardner and Qualter, 2009; Hertel, Schutz, & Lammers, 2009), substance abuse (Hertel, Schutz, & Lammers, 2009) and violent behavior (Brackett et al., 2004; Mayer et al., 2004).
On the other hand, emotional well-being seems to be correlated with Emotional Intelligence, as a study of university students concluded (Brackett & Mayer, 2003; Lopes et al., 2003). Additionally, people with high Emotional Intelligence also tend to seek psychological help when they need it (Goldenberg, Matheson, & Mantler, 2006).
Emotional intelligence also positively influences academic success, according to several studies (Zeidner, Shani-Zinovich, Matthews, & Roberts, 2005). Students with greater Emotional Intelligence seem to have more attention and more positive attitudes towards school and teachers. (Rivers et al., 2008).
In interpersonal relationships, Emotional Intelligence leads to relationships with higher quality (Brackett, Warner, & Bosco, 2005; Brackett et al., 2006a; Lopes, Salovey, Coˆte´, & Beers, 2005; Lopes et al., 2003, 2004 ), supportive relationships with friends and parents, instead of antagonistic and conflicting relationships (Lopes et al., 2004). In love relationships, there also seems to be a positive influence from Emotional Intelligence.
And what about now?
The question that now arises is: are we educating children and young people to have high Emotional Intelligence? Not all families are prepared to do this, and not all schools have the capacity to do so. Moreover, the content that children and young people consume on television and online are also not always the most beneficial for developing emotional skills.
This creates a gap between what is needed for a better society and the education that most families and schools have tools to provide. What do we do with this? We found new solutions to promote Emotional Intelligence!
What solutions already exist?
Fortunately, there are already many people around the world working on these themes and creating projects to promote the skills of Emotional Intelligence in the education of young children. An example is a preventive program for schools called “The RULER Approach”, created by Yale University, in the United States. This program promotes learning opportunities for students, teachers, principals and families to develop the skills to recognize, understand, label, express and regulate emotions, in order to make better decisions, have better relationships, act in a pro-social and feel greater well-being. Classes with this program have shown to have more positive relationships and more respect, more enthusiasm for learning, less bullying among students, and less expressions of anger or frustration by teachers (Reyes et al., 2010). All thanks to the promotion of Emotional Intelligence.
In Portugal, projects also begin to emerge inside and outside schools that promote Emotional Intelligence, Positive Education and family well-being. At No Bully Portugal, we also promote these goals, in our work with students, teachers, operational assistants and families. We work to create school communities with greater empathy, understanding, cooperation, kindness.
What can each family do?
Interactions within the family and time spent together are essential for the development of Emotional Intelligence in children and young people. So there are some things that every family can do to raise children and young people with greater Emotional Intelligence:
Chat about emotions in a relaxed way and encourage youngsters to share what they felt in their day, without being judged
- Watch movies or read books that explore emotions and discuss them - for example, the film “Divertida Mente” (Inside Out in English)
- When the youngest go through something more intense, promote a conversation in which they can express what they felt and feel supported by adults
- Validate and respect emotions of those who feel angry or sad, giving them time to process them
- Share with the youngest experiences that you have spent at their age, with which they can identify
- If an adult in the family has a more extreme or inappropriate reaction, take a moment to admit it and apologize to others
- Take a deep breath whenever emotions are exploding! It is the best solution to avoid huge discussions and conflicts
We leave you with these small tips to promote Emotional Intelligence that, in the long run, will undoubtedly make a huge difference!
Learn more about Bright Concept's Emotional Intelligence programs here.
Vice-President and Visionary Pacifist at No Bully Portugal