There are Four Criteria to define Emotional Intelligence (EQ), according to Nana Dawson-Andoh of Bryn Mawr College. They are:
- Identifying Emotions – This is the ability of the child to recognize how you and those around him are feeling.
- Using Emotions – This is the child’s ability to generate and express emotions, and then rationalize the reason for such emotion.
- Understanding Emotions – This is the child’s ability to understand complex emotions like anger and how these emotions escalate from one stage to another.
- Managing Emotions – The last and the most important criterion is the child’s ability to manage and cope with his own emotions.
These emotion criteria are arranged from the basic to the higher order thinking skills of an individual.
It takes hard work and dedication to be able to tap these potentials in a child; in fact in some individuals this may take a lifetime to achieve it.
In general, development of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in a child, deals with understanding and managing emotions and to be able to apply them in developing his own personality traits and social skills. These are the common problems of children today, especially with conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorders (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) who have poor Emotional Intelligence (EI), resulting in poor social skills.
Development of EI obviously involves the brain’s function but you do not need to be an expert to help your child develop his social skills; considering that each child is unique and may have different needs, it is now the role of the parents to identify their strengths and weaknesses and help them deal with it.
In the development of EI, the first two years of life are very crucial, because according to Erik Erikson this is the time that the child develops trust in the outside world. This is the very basic of all emotions that will pave way for the development of other positive character traits of a child.
What you can do is, to make your child feel secure by providing his basic needs at the time he needs it, delaying which, may make him feel insecure about his surroundings and the people who take care of him.
It is also important to use the right tone of voice even with infants, because they can relate the tone of voice with the right emotions. At this stage also, you have to minimize stranger anxiety, meaning care takers should be people that the child knows and trusts.
It is also important at this stage to keep your children engaged by taking time to talk to them even if they don’t seem to understand, this makes them feel important and valued. This way you can also develop your child’s intelligence by developing his verbal skills.
Once the child is in his pre-school years, it is the right time to teach him proper social skills. It will be a lot easier if they have learned the basic emotions at home leading to a better and healthier Emotional Intelligence (EI).