There’s been a lot of talk about this so called emotional intelligence recently. So what exactly is it and why is it important?
Essentially, EI is how we perceive and understand what is going on around us emotionally and then choose how to feel, think, and act accordingly.
It is the ability to recognize our own emotions and the emotions of those around us, understand the differences and consequences of emotions, and use that information to guide our thinking and behaviors in various life situations.
It also gives us the ability to manage our own emotions and try to help others feel better. Recent studies even show that EI is largely behind most of our daily decisions and actions. Some even link 80% of life success to high levels of EI.
Fortunately, emotional intelligence is a character trait that can be developed and strengthened. Many elementary and secondary schools have adopted Social and Emotional Learning initiatives for this very purpose. Indicators show children who are actively taught social and emotional learning curriculums have better academic performances and attendance, improved interpersonal relationships, higher rates of effective decision making, and better self-control.
How to Build Emotional Intelligence
How can we can continue and build upon this momentum as our children get older and head off to college? With their first taste of independence, these young adults are bombarded with academic, financial, and personal stressors, as well as temptations of instant gratification at every turn. So how can we keep them focused on doing what is good and right, not just for them, but for those around them?
Here are six things you can encourage your child to do in college to keep developing their Emotional Intelligence as well as their academics.
- Get involved in a service organization.
Serving others is a great way to develop empathy. Understanding there are others less fortunate and helping them is a powerful tool in building positive relationships and self-confidence and teaching the meaning of community. It feels good for the recipient to receive the kindness, and the giver feels good knowing he or she helped someone. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Writing down thoughts, feelings, worries, and even goals helps the author connect with his or her innermost emotions and better understand them. A fear doesn’t seem so big when it’s captured on paper. A goal is more realistic and obtainable when it is put into words. Venting emotions can provide relief from them swirling around the mind. Journaling is a very effective way to manage thoughts and emotions.
- Choose friends wisely.
We are often associated with those we surround ourselves with, even when they partake in behaviors we don’t. Young adults need to understand this. If they have friends who are caught making less than desirable choices, they will be assumed guilty of those same behaviors by association. Talk to your kids about how their friendships “feel”. If hanging out with someone causes negative thoughts or feelings, it probably isn’t someone they should spend a lot of time around. Encourage them to make friends with those who share their interests and make them feel good when they are together.
- Exercise to keep a clear mind.
Whether it’s yoga and meditation, going for a run, or playing intramural flag football, being physically active releases endorphins and physiologically makes you feel better. This can lead to reduced stress and clearer thoughts, as well as an overall healthier kid in mind and body.
With so many exams to study for, papers to write, and parties to attend, college students often give up sleep to make time for something else. Getting a good night sleep, however, lets the mind rest and rejuvenates the body. It keeps your thoughts clearer, your mind better able to make good decisions, and your body healthy.
- Take advantage of resources.
Most colleges and universities offer counseling services. Encourage your child to take advantage of them if they are feeling anxious or worried about a situation. They may also offer different support groups to connect students with similar interests or issues. Talking about their emotions helps them better learn to handle them, realize they are not alone, and learn to be more in touch with their own feelings. This, in turn, can help them learn to be more empathetic and less judging of others.
Sending your child off to college can be intimidating for both of you. Talk openly with them and give them pointers on both academic and emotional intellect. The two can easily go hand in hand, arming young adults for a successful, meaningful, and happy life.
- Daniel Goleman
- Publisher: Bantam Books
- Emotional intelligence test
- Self awareness
- strategies to increase emotional intelligence
- Harvard Business School Press
- Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis, Annie McKee, Sydney Finkelstein
- Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Last update on 2019-02-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API