Supporting a Child in the Five Areas of Emotional Intelligence

Supporting a Child in the Five Areas of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others. Its development is distinct from the development of academic intelligence and a child can benefit from the positive impact on success and wellbeing that it can provide. A child experiencing some of the less helpful characteristics common in high learning potential children, such as the tendency towards perfectionism, social challenges, or worry and anxiety, could benefit greatly from the mitigating effect of the development of their emotional intelligence. In our blog Emotional Intelligence and High Learning Potential we looked at what emotional intelligence is and its impact on children with high learning potential. In this article we look in more detail at the five key skill areas identified as constituting emotional intelligence by psychologist Dr Daniel Goleman:

  1. Self-awareness: the ability to recognise your own emotions (and how they affect not just yourself but others around you).
  2. Self-regulation: the ability to remain in control of your actions, whatever emotions you may be feeling.
  3. Motivation: the ability to persevere in your pursuits, even in the face of difficulties.
  4. Empathy: the ability to understand and respond to the emotions of others.
  5. Social skills: the ability to use emotional intelligence in the context of interpersonal relationships.


Being able to understand their emotions: what they are, why they are experiencing them and then what to do in response to them, goes a long way in building up emotional intelligence. You can help your child by discussing your own emotions; by modelling emotionally intelligent behaviour, showing them that it is okay to have all different kinds of emotions and that we can respond to them in a positive manner.

Talk to them about how you feel; about how they feel, and about both the big and the small emotions, in order to take the fear of the unknown out of the equation. This can be of immense help to a child who may previously have found it difficult to discuss their feelings. Modelling behaviour in this way can show them that the world does not end when we admit to our emotions; that, in fact, it becomes a whole lot easier to navigate once we do not fear our feelings. Validate their own emotions, and their intensity, and make such discussions so regular that the whole process becomes comfortable, normalised, almost automatic, and certainly significantly less scary.

If they are not comfortable vocalising their emotions, allow them to write them down or draw them. Perhaps make up some emotion cards so that your child can pick out the ones that they are feeling at that moment, or ask them: “If you were an animal, what would you be?”. Helping them to develop the confidence and the vocabulary to recognise, name and describe their emotions will help them to feel more in control, and they can begin to take ownership of them. From that point, they will be much more able to go on to choose appropriate ways forward. For more support in helping them to develop their emotional literacy, see our advice sheet PA616 Describing Feelings

It is also only with the development of such self-awareness that a child can go on to develop another of the key skills of emotional intelligence: empathy. From the stepping stone of being able to recognise their own emotions they will be able to move on to identifying the emotions of others.

Here’s what makes ‘authoritative parents’ different from the rest—and why psychologists say it’s the best parenting style

Here’s what makes ‘authoritative parents’ different from the rest—and why psychologists say it’s the best parenting style

We all want to raise intelligent, confident and successful kids. But where to begin? And what’s the best parenting style to go with?

There are four main parenting styles: Permissive, authoritative, neglectful and authoritarian. It might be that you use one or more of these styles at different times, depending on the situation and context.

The 4 Parenting Styles

But research tells us that authoritative parenting is ranked highly in a number of ways: Academic, social-emotional and behavioral. Similar to authoritarian parents, authoritative parents expect a lot from their children — but they expect even more from their own behavior.

What is authoritative parenting?

Authoritative parents are supportive and often in tune with their children’s needs. They guide their kids through open and honest discussions to teach values and reasoning.

Like authoritarian parents, they set limits and enforce standards. But unlike authoritarian parents, they’re much more nurturing.

Some common traits of authoritative parents:

  • Responsive to their child’s emotional needs, while having high standards
  • Communicates frequently and takes into consideration their child’s thoughts, feelings and opinions
  • Allows natural consequences to occur, but uses those opportunities to help their child reflect and learn
  • Fosters independence and reasoning
  • Highly involved in their child’s progress and growth

Why experts agree authoritative parenting is the most effective style

Studies have found that authoritative parents are more likely to raise confident kids who achieve academic success, have better social skills and are more capable at problem-solving.

Instead of always coming to their kid’s rescue, which is more typical among permissive parents, authoritative parents allow their kids to make mistakes. This offers kids the opportunity to learn, while also letting them know that their parents will be there to support them.

Authoritative parenting is especially helpful when dealing with conflict, because the way we learn to deal with conflict at a young age plays a big role in how we handle our losses or how resilient we are in our adult lives.

With permissive parents, solutions to conflicts are generally up to the child. The child “wins” and the parent “loses.” I’ve seen this approach lead to kids becoming more self-centered and less able to self-regulate.

Of course, there are times when a punishment, like taking a time out, is necessary. But the problem with constant punishment is that it doesn’t actually teach your kid anything helpful. In most cases, it teaches them that the person with the most power wins, fair or not.

Let’s say your 10-year-old son begs not to go to soccer practice: “I don’t want to because I don’t think I’m good at it.”

In response,

  • A permissive parent might say, “It’s up to you.”
  • A neglectful parent might say, “Whatever you want … it’s your life.”
  • An authoritarian parent might say, “You have to. I don’t want to hear another word from you.”
  • An authoritative parent might say, “I understand that you don’t want to go. But sometimes, fighting the urge to avoid doing something hard is how you get better!”

While authoritative parents do set limits and expect their kids to behave responsibly, they don’t just demand blind obedience. They communicate and reason with the child, which can help inspire cooperation and teach kids the reason behind the rules.

Authoritative parenting doesn’t guarantee success

While experts give authoritative parenting the most praise, it’s important to note that using just one method does not always guarantee positive outcomes.

Parenting isn’t an exact science. In many ways, it’s more like an art. As a child psychologist and mother, my advice is to be loving and understanding — but to also create structure and boundaries.

Is it OK to step in when your child is having a dispute?

Is it OK to step in when your child is having a dispute?

Teacher, friendship expert and founder of a social-emotional wellbeing program for kids, Dana Kerford, explains the desire of parents to become involved usually stems from good intentions.

“That love you feel for your child is raw and visceral,” she says.

“But the second you find out [your child is in pain and] the pain came from another child, that sweet, warm mother hen morphs into Mama Bear.

“What once was warmth and compassion is now anger.”

And while emotions can run strong, Ms Kerford says it is important (in the majority of cases) to try not get involved in your child’s dispute for a whole host of reasons. Here, she outlines five of them.

Your kids fighting might give you a headache, but it can give them important life skills. Experts give tips on what you can do and whether you should do anything at all.

Ms Kerford says that often “involving the other child’s parent is humiliating, embarrassing, and erodes trust” between the parent and child.

2. You can’t view the situation or your child objectively

As a parent, “no matter how hard you try to see things from all perspectives, you will naturally have a bias towards your own child,” Ms Kerford says.

“You not only love your child; you also have a very large sample size of their behaviour to draw conclusions.”

3. Involvement can be charged by emotions

“When we picture anything negative happening to our child, we immediately experience an innate, sometimes even physical reaction,” Ms Kerford says.

While this is normal, it isn’t always helpful, she explains.

4. Your perspective is different than your child

“What’s huge to you might be small for them or vice-versa,” she says.

While you may think it warrants interception, your child may have moved past the issue by the next day.

5. It makes things unnecessarily awkward between you and that parent

“In the one out of 10 times where the conversation seems to go relatively well, even if both parents are well-meaning, it is often the beginning of the end,” she says.

“Your relationship with that parent will naturally feel awkward and one or both of you will come away feeling defensive,” something Ms Kerford says is instinctive.

This awkwardness and sense of discomfort became the reality for Amanda after she was contacted by Carly. She also says that she felt a prevalent bias by the other mother to her son.

Why does my child bully other children? How do I stop him?

Why does my child bully other children? How do I stop him?

What causes children to be abusive and how can parents help them stop hurting others?

cyberbullying (illustrative) Practically every parent sends a child to an educational setting with certain concerns, and prays that he/she won’t be harmed, humiliated or insulted. And this fear is well-founded – children from kindergarten age to youth in military settings suffer from ridicule, shaming, exclusion, humiliation, slaps, beatings, sexual assault and other forms of violence, which is very frightening.

But just as we fear that our children will become victims, how will we react if we find out that, actually, it’s our son or daughter who’s the one threatening others and acting out violently?

Before we’re overwhelmed with feelings of severe parental failure – it’s important that we understand that how we behave has a purpose and is observed by our kids, and even if the path is negative, the final goal will be positive and bring us to a place where we feel loved, wanted, accepted, capable and belong to family and society.

Indulgence leads to inferiority

We make mistakes due to a variety of emotional difficulties or physiological disabilities, yet they also reflect the relationships we have at home, the family atmosphere and the lifestyle our child adapts to as an outcome of all of these.

A family atmosphere based, for example, on dominance and inequality, one that distinguishes between the dominant and the controlled and which elevates the strong over the weak, may lead the child to think that in order to belong to the family and society, he/she must be strong, insist that his/her way is the only way and adopt a powerful stance.

Children who have been weakened or attacked themselves and can’t confront the abuser with his/her pain will direct the negative feelings that have accumulated in them toward others.

A child who doesn’t experience warmth, love, encouragement, acceptance and whose physiological and physical needs are ignored so he/she can’t properly grow and develop; he/she may believe that his life has no meaning and so will turn his hopelessness inward and on others to thwart any intention to help him.

On the other hand, Alfred Adler, the father of Adlerian theory, is against indulgence. He claims that a girl whose parents treat her like a princess, removing every obstacle and providing her with everything – will go out into society without coping techniques and won’t believe in her abilities. A pampered girl who is used to getting everything she wants, always and on-demand, will express dissatisfaction when her demands aren’t met and will express arrogance towards adults and children around her.

Similar to pampered children, who don’t feel capable and can’t recognize their inner strengths, disadvantaged children risk developing a superiority complex to compensate for certain perceived gaps between them and classmates, and to lift their sense of worth – they’ll hurt and demean others.

Stop-go in another direction

If you discovered that your daughter is defaming another girl on social media, that your son is throwing objects at the heads of friends from kindergarten or that your little girl is leading a boycott of a new girl in the neighborhood – it’s time to uproot the pain.

It’s highly advisable not to handle matters alone, and to first involve the school staff. The school counselor, kindergarten teacher or homeroom teacher has the tools, experience and familiarity with the various treatments.

Early Childhood Education and the Four Key Benefits on Child Development

Early Childhood Education and the Four Key Benefits on Child Development

ECE or Early Child Education is considered to be a crucial period in child development. Although not mandatory by the Unites States Department of Education, the early childhood education is a fundamental stage in the learning.

The National Association for Early Childhood Education for Young Children (NAEYC) defines early childhood as occurring before the age of 8. It is during this period that a child experiences the fastest stage of growth and development, be it mental or physical. Their brains develop faster than at any time in their lives, so these years are crucial. In these years, they have established the foundations of social skills, self-esteem, worldview and moral vision, as well as the development of cognitive abilities; on all these important foundations, encouraging early childhood education that promotes healthy development and nurturing, trends show that parents I have come to realize this more and more. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the past 30 years, enrollment in pre-school education has increased from 96,000 to more than 1 million.

It’s a common misperception that early childhood education is only about learning basic skills. “It’s so much more than that, Says Dr. Jessica Alvarado, academic program director for the BA in Early Childhood Development at National University. Dr. Alvarado further explains it as: “It’s a time when children learn critical social and emotional skills and a partnership is formed between the child, their parents and the teacher. When this is done successfully, it lays the groundwork for it to continue throughout the child’s education.”

Here is what UNESCO has to say about it:

“Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. ECCE has the possibility to nurture caring, capable and responsible future citizens.”

Simply put, early childhood education (ECE) helps children gain the necessary academic, emotional, and social skills to prosper in school and beyond. Benefits of Early Childhood Education


Interacting with people outside of the children’s family in a safe environment is an important part of the personality development of the child. As parents, we intuitively understand that it is important to introduce our children to other children and support them in transitioning to their own friendship group. We do our best because it can help children overcome shyness and gain confidence. If we leave this for too long, we will actually hinder their social development. Sharing & Cooperation:

Under the guidance of professionals who care about the best interests of children, learn to share, cooperate, take turns and persist in a safe […]

Fieseher: Dinosaurs, toy trucks and pink crayons

Dinosaurs, toy trucks and pink crayons

Here are some disturbing facts: In the US, the suicide rate for men (25/100,000) is over 3 times the rate for women (7.5/100,000) *. FBI records indicate that 98% of mass shootings are done by men (women account for only 9 of the 250 mass shootings from 2000 to 2017). Surprisingly, the solution to both problems may have to do with dinosaurs, toy trucks and pink crayons.

Let me explain.

As the father of 3 girls, my children were interested in stories about “people” and interpersonal relationships. They noted that Peter Rabbit ventured alone in Mr. MacGregor’s Garden (and almost became rabbit stew) while his bunny sisters stayed together to pick blackberries. They sympathized with the toy bear Corduroy who was missing a button in the toy store and felt unwanted and unloved because of it.

While they didn’t always stay within the lines in their coloring books, my daughters had no problem using every crayon in the box, creating some very colorful and sometimes bizarre masterpieces.

Like most of their peers, my girls played with dolls and recreated interactions between them often involving feelings and emotions.

My grandsons are being raised differently. They enjoy playing with their toy trucks and excavators. Their stuffed animals are dinosaurs who fight evil monsters and dragons to save the day. Books about relationships tend to be “boring.” The pictures they draw in their coloring books tend to be done mostly in primary colors or dark shades. The pink crayon has never been touched.

In a recent guest essay in the NY Times, Ruth Whippman, the mother of three boys, suggests that the gender differences in which we raise our children may have a lot to do with the reason that men are more likely to resolve conflicts violently. This may explain the differences in suicide rates and gender percentages of mass shooters.

The toys and stories we give to boys emphasize individuality and a black and white or good versus evil mentality. There is a winner and a loser, and the winner is always “good.”

Boys learn that cooperation requires no emotional interactions other than the specialized skills of superheroes or construction toys working together. Boys don’t need to consider how the bulldozer feels about working with the backhoe.

Ms. Whippman suggests that this may be why boys are generally unprepared to deal with the complex social interactions and emotions of adult life. Stories and TV shows about the male figure (not necessarily human) vanquishing evil monsters fosters a more aggressive set of values in resolving conflicts.

Many boys learn at an early age that pink is a “girl’s color” and might emasculate them in the eyes of their peers.

In being less aware or considerate of the feelings of others, it’s much easier for men to objectify others and treat them as less human or less worthy of fairness or consideration. When that objectification is turned inward, males, especially in their teens and twenties are more vulnerable to suicidal tendencies.

Male thinking usually values the concept of choosing to do what’s “right” over how that solution affects relationships or the feelings of others.