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The Parent’s Guide to Cultivating Emotional Intelligence in Children

Emotional Intelligence in children
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Traditionally, parenting mainly focused on raising book-smart kids and who did it first.

“My son has straight A’s on his report card.”

“My daughter is only three years old and can already count to 25.”

Although academia is essential in a child’s development, we tend to forget to focus on the education of emotional awareness. Fostering emotional intelligence in children can lead to healthier relationships, better decision-making, and overall well-being.

Reinforcing emotional awareness in children is a vital aspect of positive parenting. In this article, we will define emotional intelligence and explore how parents can act as teachers for their children’s emotions.

Related: Positive Parenting 101: Raising Happy and Confident Kids

What is Emotional Intelligence in Children?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to the ability to manage one’s feelings and emotions while regarding the feelings of others. EQ in children is not much different than in adults. Except that we have forgotten when we first learned these skills.

Children learn the skills needed to have a high EQ at their own speeds. Therefore, it’s important to note that your child’s emotional intelligence level may not be as high or as low as their peers – and that’s okay.

As a parent, it’s essential to understand the basics of EQ and coach your children through this necessary stage in their development.

parents talking to child about emotions
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The Five Components of EQ

According to Daniel Goleman, the author of the book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, EQ is made up of five primary components:

  1. Self-Awareness: The ability to recognize and understand your thoughts, feelings and emotions. A child with healthy self-awareness will be able to express their feelings sensibly.
  2. Self-Regulation: The ability to manage disruptive thoughts, emotions, and impulses is called self-regulation. When one has good self-regulation, they can find constructive solutions to their negative feelings or behaviours.
  3. Motivation: Refers to one’s internal drive to reach a specific goal. Highly motivated children will take the initiative to meet their goals.
  4. Empathy: This is the ability to understand how someone else would feel in a particular situation. Empathetic children are better at understanding interaction with other people.
  5. Social skills: Building relationships is facilitated by gaining a better understanding of a person’s personality.

Why is EQ Important for Children?

EQ is the ability to be well-educated about others’ and your own emotions. It requires the ability to notice, understand and constructively react to emotions. It also helps us make positive connections with the people around us.

Research has shown that EQ is a better predictor of future success in children than intelligence quotient (IQ). Children with high EQ are more attentive and engaged in the classroom and more successful in their adult professional careers.

Children with higher EQ are better able to pay attention, are more engaged in school, have more positive relationships, and are more empathic.

It’s essential to educate emotional intelligence in children because it will improve their learning ability, enable them to resolve conflicts easier, and encourage better personal and social well-being.

Strategies for Promoting EQ in Children

Open Communication

Having open and candid conversations promotes emotional intelligence in children. Through positive parenting, you can help your children through disruptive emotions such as anger or frustration through emotion coaching.

Asking your children ‘why’ can spark a conversation about why they feel the way they are and how they can reach a positive outcome.

Encouraging them to be curious about the world can increase their EQ. Being sensitive to different environments and contexts can enhance their ability to adapt to various emotional situations.

Role Modeling

Children are little sponges. They soak up the behaviours, language and habits they are exposed to in their environments.

According to Unicef, emotional intelligence in children ‘can be cultivated from an early age and developed throughout life.’

It’s essential to model a wide range of emotions to our children. Although we tend to avoid showing them ‘negative’ emotions such as sadness or anger, it is crucial they know they these are natural emotions that can be managed effectively.

When your children observe how you work through your emotions, they learn how to, as well.

Related: 11 Steps to Make You an Efficient Parent 

Parent feeling sad and chid observing
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Teach Problem-Solving Skills

Not all emotional responses need to be acted upon; it may be good enough to be aware of them and move on.

However, some feelings are responses to a situation that needs to be addressed.

Help your children come up with three ways to solve any problems. Act as a coach, gently guiding them through the solutions. Try not to act as the one to solve all their problems, as they will learn to rely on you instead.

Show Empathy

When your child is upset, it’s easy to feel the same way. It would be best to validate their feelings by letting them know they are heard.

Show empathy to your child, even if you don’t understand why they are upset in the first place.

Using empathetic language can let them know that you are aware of how they are feeling on the inside.

“I know you want to have that chocolate bar before bed. Sometimes, I want chocolate before bed, too. We must remember that we have chocolate in the daytime, after our meals.”

This is a great way to deescalate temper tantrums, as your children feel heard. It allows a space to open up where you both can address what is making your child upset.

The Role of Positive Parenting in Building EQ

One of the main goals of positive parenting is to raise emotionally aware kids who grow up to be balanced adults.

Studies show that kids with high EQ tend to excel academically, maintain healthier mental states, and foster stronger relationships. At its core, EQ is the art of recognizing, assessing, and managing emotions.

For parents incorporating positive parenting, it’s crucial to recognize the difference between accepting their child’s emotions and accepting the resulting behaviours from their feelings. They should know that it’s okay and natural to feel a certain way, but it does not mean it excuses them from harmful behaviours.

Related: 5 Effective Positive Discipline Strategies for Behaviour Management 

Guiding children on how to channel emotions constructively is essential.

Traditional parenting corrects feelings and actions. Positive parenting validates emotions and teaches expression. This empowers children emotionally and helps them navigate life effectively.

parent empowering children to handle emotions
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  • Traditional vs. Modern Parenting: Historically, the emphasis was on academic achievements. Now, there’s a shift towards nurturing emotional intelligence alongside academics.
  • Defining Emotional Intelligence (EQ): EQ is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s emotions while considering others’ feelings.
  • Components of EQ: As per Daniel Goleman, EQ comprises:
    • Self-Awareness: Recognizing personal emotions.
    • Self-Regulation: Managing disruptive emotions.
    • Motivation: Internal drive to achieve goals.
    • Empathy: Understanding others’ feelings.
    • Social Skills: Building and maintaining relationships.
  • Importance of EQ: EQ is crucial for personal and professional success. It enhances attention, engagement, relationships, and empathy.
  • Promoting EQ in Children: Strategies include:
    • Open Communication: Encouraging discussions about feelings.
    • Role Modeling: Demonstrating emotional management.
    • Problem-Solving Skills: Guiding children to find solutions.
    • Empathy: Validating and understanding children’s emotions.
  • Positive Parenting’s Role: It aims to validate emotions and guide children on constructive expression, ensuring they grow into emotionally balanced adults.


In today’s ever-evolving parenting landscape, the focus has shifted from academic excellence to the holistic development of a child’s emotional intelligence.

EQ plays a crucial role in a child’s interpersonal relationships, decision-making and overall mental well-being.

The strategies discussed, ranging from open and honest communication to the act of setting a good example, are essential for parents who wish to raise children who are both emotionally resilient and empathetic.

As we wrap up, it’s crucial to remember that although good grades can unlock doors, emotional intelligence is necessary for navigating life’s intricate pathways.

By embracing the principles of positive parenting, you’ll be establishing a foundation for future generations that are not only academically proficient but also emotionally intelligent.

Kay | Motherhood Blogger

Welcome to The Mama Compass! I’m Kay, just another parent navigating the realm of health and wellness and all the beautiful chaos that comes with it. With a focus on parenting, travel, and wellness, I share my own experiences, comforting insights, and reassuring discoveries from my journey alongside my sweet son, Maui. We all encounter similar joys and challenges, and my aim is to connect with you on a relatable level. Join us as we embark on a shared exploration of practical tips for nurturing a healthy lifestyle, exchange stories of mindful parenting, and immerse ourselves in exhilarating travel escapades, Maui-style. We’ll embrace the harmonious blend of family, wellness, and wanderlust on this enriching journey. Together, we’ll find your ‘true north’ on The Mama Compass!

Kay xox

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