Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognise, understand, and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. It is important for success in many areas of life.

Emotionally Intelligent Paths

Research has shown that individuals with high emotional intelligence are more successful in their personal and professional lives, including in leadership roles (Goleman, 2006). They are better able to manage stress, handle conflict, and communicate effectively with others. Emotionally intelligent children are better prepared for academic and social success. Studies have shown that emotionally intelligent children tend to have better academic outcomes, higher levels of social competence, and more positive relationships with peers and adults (Denham, 2006; Raver, 2002).

Developing Emotional Intelligence

The family environment plays a critical role in the development of emotional intelligence. Research has shown that children who grow up in warm, supportive families that provide consistent emotional support are more likely to develop strong emotional intelligence skills (Morris et al., 2007). Parents who model emotional intelligence skills and provide opportunities for their children to practice these skills are also key factors in the development of emotional intelligence in children (Gottman & Declaire, 1997).

Some effective strategies for raising emotionally intelligent children are:

1. Modelling Emotional Intelligence

Parents are the first and most influential role models for children. Children observe and learn from their parents’ behaviours, attitudes, and reactions. Therefore, parents need to model emotional intelligence in their children’s everyday lives. They should express their emotions healthily and constructively, such as by talking about their feelings, using “I” statements, and showing empathy towards others.

Encouraging empathy, which is the ability to understand and feel what others are experiencing. It is a critical component of emotional intelligence. Parents can encourage empathy in their children by modelling it themselves and by teaching them to consider others’ feelings. Parents can ask their children, “How do you think your friend is feeling?” or “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” This helps children develop a sense of compassion and understanding for others.

2. Emotion coaching

Emotional coaching is an effective parenting approach for promoting emotional intelligence in children. Emotion coaching involves validating children’s emotions, helping them to label and understand their emotions, and teaching them effective strategies for regulating their emotions (Kazdin, 2008). Research has shown that emotion coaching is associated with positive outcomes in children, including better social and emotional competence (Gottman & Declaire, 1997).

3. Intentional Practice

Emotional intelligence can be developed through intentional practice. Research has shown that emotional intelligence is not fixed and can be developed through intentional practice (Bradberry & Greaves, 2009). Strategies for developing emotional intelligence include increasing self-awareness, practising self-regulation, improving social awareness, and developing relationship management skills (Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

In conclusion, emotional intelligence is a crucial aspect of a child’s overall well-being and success in life. Parents play a significant role in nurturing emotional intelligence in their children. By modelling emotional intelligence, teaching emotions, validating emotions, encouraging empathy, providing a safe and secure environment, teaching problem-solving skills, and encouraging independence, parents can raise emotionally intelligent children who can make decisions and take responsibility for their actions. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on abigail@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817. 


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