This has got to be one of my favorite topics – emotional intelligence. Anyone every heard of it? It’s the kind of intelligence that relates to the capacity of someone to acquire and apply emotional information. It is one aspect of something that has been coined as EQ. We will talk about some of the other aspects of EQ later.
Emotional Intelligence is a term developed by psychologist Daniel Goleman. He stated that strong emotions are a “call to action” if you will. He also helped to point out the link between emotion and motivation, indicating that the core attribute of a high EQ was the ability to manage and effectively utilize one’s emotional responses.
This is particularly true with gifted children – a population we have already described as being very emotionally intense. If we want these children to be as gifted in their emotional domain as they are in other cognitive areas of their lives, learning to manage emotional reactions is certainly a key.
The impact of a strong emotional intelligence on children is profound – as emotions themselves impact every single aspect of human life. Health, learning, behavior, relationships – every one of these domains are influenced by our emotional competencies. Children in environments that nurture emotional intelligence have been found to have a better frustration tolerance and engage in fewer self-destructive behaviors. Especially true for our intense kiddos.
How can parents and other adults assist in nurturing the emotional intelligence of our kids? Based on current research, as well as some research we will discuss in future posts, the following five domains hold the key to enhancing a person’s development of emotional competencies:
- Self-awareness. Dr Phil and others have constantly said “You can’t fix what you don’t know, or won’t acknowledge”. This is particularly true in the emotional domain. The first step towards really understanding and developing emotional maturity is being able to recognize one’s own emotions from moment to moment.
- Self-monitoring. Once you, or a child, can recognize the moment-to-moment feelings, the next step is managing the emotions. This includes being able to diffuse and recover from things that are upsetting.
- Self-motivation. Emotions are always a call to action in one way or another – a signal that some type of movement or behavior is needed. Building strong emotional intelligence means being able to harness that power – that call for action – and using it to achieve goals. Self-motivation requires self-control. And self-discipline.
- Empathy. This refers to the ability to not only understand what another person may be feelings, but to really feel what the other person feels. For children to development empathy, a critical aspect of emotional intelligence, they need to be at a developmental stage of being able to see the world as separate from themselves.
- Relationships. Human beings are social creatures by definition. Strong EQ requires the ability to empathize. And, to take that one notch further – to be able to manage the emotions in others through social skills and leadership. To be able to inspire others.
Over the next few weeks we will explore these five domains more fully – in the hopes of creating a path towards building the emotional intelligence of ourselves and out children.