Nurturing emotional intelligence

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Nurturing emotional intelligence

IT’S a common misconception that IQ (intelligence quotient) is more important than EQ (emotional quotient). Research have shown that EQ is more significant than IQ when it comes to predicting success in life.

Michael Balter, an American science journalist, found that children who scored higher on IQ tests would, on average, go on to do better in conventional measures of success in life, particularly in the areas of academic achievement, economic success, and even greater health and longevity.

Is that because they’re more intelligent? Not necessarily, according to Balter. New research concludes that IQ scores are partly a measure of how motivated a child is to do well on the test. And harnessing that motivation might be as important to later success as so-called native intelligence.

However, EQ measures our emotional intelligence and how good we are at managing and controlling our emotions in life. Scientists generally agree that while our IQ can predict our career success, our EQ is the one that determines how well we perform at the job and how well we collaborate with other people.


Psychologist Daniel Goleman, the founder of modern EQ study, stated that EQ consisted of four key components:

  1. Self-management — ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, manage one’s emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
  2. Self-awareness — ability to recognise our own emotions and how they affect our thoughts and behaviour. This includes knowing our strengths, weaknesses and self-confidence.
  3. Social awareness — ability to empathise with others, understanding the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people; ability to pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognise the power dynamics in a group or organisation.
  4. Relationship management — ability to know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.

He estimated that IQ makes up only 20 per cent of our success in life, while EQ provides the other 80 per cent. As such, it’s critical that parents do their best to nurture EQ in their children as early as possible.

In his book Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child, Dr John Gottman recommended the following five steps to nurturing and improving a child’s EQ.

Step 1: Being aware of your child’s emotions

Parents must be aware of their own feelings and be sensitive to emotions that are present in their children. Don’t wait for the children to escalate their behaviour or act out their emotional expression for their feelings to be acknowledged.

Step 2: See emotions as an opportunity for connection and teaching

Children’s emotions are not an inconvenience or a challenge. They’re an opportunity to connect with our children and coach them through a challenging feeling.

Step 3: Listen and validate the feelings

Give your child your full attention while you listen to their emotional expression. Reflect on what you hear, thus telling your child you understand what they’re seeing and experiencing.

Step 4: Label their emotions

After you’ve fully listened, help your child develop an awareness of and vocabulary for their emotional expression.

Step 5: Help your child problem-solve with limits

All emotions are acceptable, but all behaviours are not. Help your child cope with his/her emotions by developing problem-solving skills. Limit the expression to appropriate behaviours. This involves helping your child set goals and generating solutions to reach those goals.

Dr Gottman found that parents who followed all five steps only 20-25 per cent of the time enjoyed positive results with their kids. Let’s begin to take these steps, albeit slowly, for a brighter future for our kids.

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