A child’s emotional intelligence affects their success through school and beyond. While intellectual abilities are certainly important, ignoring emotional intelligence (EQ) will have negative ramifications in the child’s life.
In schools, a lack of emotional intelligence can cause a variety of problems, from violence to increased risk of drug abuse and even suicide! And the need for emotional intelligence doesn’t end with graduation.
Today’s employers want individuals who have more than education and experience. They want employees who will work well in a team and socially resonate with clients, co-workers and customers. While many college graduates have the knowledge and experience to land a job, what many of them lack is the trait that employers value—emotional intelligence.
However, those students who do have good social management skills often have their pick of prized positions. While some individuals naturally possess a certain emotional aptitude, others have to adjust their thinking to boost their EQ. This is why schools need to integrate social and emotional learning (SEL) programs into their curriculum and learning environment.
Parents who worry that their child might not have access to a district-wide SEL program can—and should—investigate opportunities outside of learning hours to foster a student’s emotional aptitude.
SEL in the Home
One of the easiest ways to help children understand the power of emotional intelligence is through activities you can do at home. Integrating SEL in the home helps by modeling behaviors that you would like your child to emulate, and there are a number of resources available to you if you want to get started.
Helpguide.org provides an Emotional Intelligence Toolkit for adults to increase their EQ in the home. This Toolkit is a progressive five-step, skill-building process that enables parents to increase their own emotional intelligence, so that they can pass those skills on to their kids.
Parenttoolkit.com also has a number of resources about social and emotional development, specifically tailored to parents trying to boost their children’s EQ. The site offers guidance around managing a child’s emotions and additional information that parents may find helpful in creating an environment in the home that fosters emotional intelligence.
One of the premier resources on social and emotional learning, however, is the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). The organization provides a library of resources about SEL and SEL-based programs. Parents can read articles, case studies and find SEL tool kits, tips and resources for at-home enrichment.
Parents need to remember that modeling positive attitudes and actions at home shows children how to better manage their emotions and behaviors. Idaho’s State Department of Education (SDE) offers tips for parents to positively impact their children’s emotional intelligence. Talking about feelings, never insulting a child, being able to apologize, and staying calm in the face of anger all show kids how to properly manage their emotions and empathize.
After School Opportunities for Emotional Growth
Children also can benefit from after-school programs focused on SEL, leadership, or character building. Not all programs are specifically called SEL, though, so make sure to keep an eye peeled for things like leadership-based programs or character enrichment.
Your school district might even offer these programs at no-cost to parents. The National AfterSchool Association is a resource for administrators and teachers who coordinate after-school programs, so parents can use it to find programs in their area. Some programs you may find include:
Mindfulness-based programs are great for building emotional intelligence. The Inner Strength Foundation created a mindfulness program for schools in Philadelphia and offers audio meditative sessions for students across the country. The program’s founder, Amy Edelman, also offers a Go Anywhere Practice Kit that can be used by anyone, anywhere.
Mindfulness Everyday offers workshops for teachers/administrators and also provides online resources for teens, youth, and children. In addition, parents who want to learn how mindfulness can help the family should consider Mindful Life, a collection of simple mindfulness programs and tools they can use at home.
Many SEL yoga programs also offer online videos for parents to use at home. Move with Me Yoga Adventures includes numerous videos on self-regulation, Zensational Kids offers motivational affirmations and at-home worksheets, and Flower and Grow Kids Yoga provides workshops for parents. Check out our list of SEL yoga programs to discover great opportunities in your area.
Sports teams and programs can also be useful in building emotional intelligence. Organizations like The First Tee—a golf program—integrate social learning and character building with sports. The First Tee “help[s] shape the lives of young people from all walks of life by reinforcing values like integrity, respect and perseverance through the game of golf.” Golf lessons are provided at reasonable prices to parents at local and regional golf courses. Financial aid also is available to those in need.
However, playing on a regular sports team can help boost a child’s EQ. Through sports, children learn how to work in teams, manage their emotions and compete in a positive way. While “there’s no crying in baseball” might have been a curt direction from Tom Hanks’ character in A League of their Own, the ability for children to learn to control their emotions when faced with losing or frustration is a lifelong lesson that will serve them well even into adulthood.
Combining sport and mindfulness, martial arts is a great EQ booster. Most martial arts practices teach respect, discipline, self-regulation…and that violence is not the answer. Martial arts practices like karate also teach self-defense techniques to help boost confidence and self-esteem.
Organizations like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts also can help give children after-school opportunities that focus on self and social management. Young women and girls involved in Girl Scouts often must work together on projects and are responsible for their own goals—including completing the requisites to earn new badges. In the Boy Scouts, the Eagle Scout rank can only be earned by the most dedicated scouts and it takes discipline and determination.
Emotional intelligence is an attribute that can positively affect a child’s life in school and beyond. While opportunities for SEL-based enrichment exist in schools across the country, there are many districts that have not yet implemented these programs.Students that attend schools without SEL enrichment need their parents to help strengthen and enhance their emotional intelligence. SEL takes many shapes and forms, but the one universal quality is that it will help your children become more emotionally, which will help them for the rest of their lives.