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Why in the World Do We Need Emotional Intelligence?

By TV host and entrepreneur Sofia Dickens, founder of educational media company EQtainment

You’ve probably heard about emotional intelligence, or EQ: the ability to manage your own emotions and to manage those of others. But as a mom of three young kids, I asked myself, why does it matter? And what does it look like when applied to our children? 

Decades of research have revealed that EQ is a greater correlate to life success than IQ. Even though our education system is based on IQ, children with higher EQ have better physical and mental health, better leadership skills, and higher job performance when they grow up. A person with the ability to communicate effectively, read others, empathize, and cope with stress can achieve happier, healthier relationships and find satisfaction in their work life.  Some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent, but the great news is that EQ can be taught and drastically improved. 

When it comes to kids, EQ is pretty simple. It boils down to impulse control and behavior, skills that any family can practice at home. Just a little added emphasis on these qualities can reap huge rewards. So how to we practice these qualities we now know to be game-changing for our kids?

First, we need to rid ourselves of the idea that EQ is simply about raising nicer kids. The EQ movement—once a paradigm-shifting war cry against an outdated education system and its improper emphasis on IQ—has been hijacked by parenting experts who promote EQ as the “soft skills” for building peace-loving, touchy-feely children.  While learning to identify feelings is important, some experts have turned the topic of emotional intelligence into a feelings free-for-all, in which parents and teachers are constantly stopping the task at hand to validate and discuss a child’s every feeling and whim. Quite the contrary, emotional intelligence is the mature ability to take hold of those feelings and direct them for positive results. Picture it more like a war room or control center, sending out orders and overriding unruly thought-patterns. As PhD Daniel Goleman said, “In a very real sense, we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.” Emotional intelligence is training those two minds to work together effectively.

I became fascinated with the impact of emotional intelligence as a student at Harvard and spent the next several years as an educational TV host. Once I became a mom, I wanted to make EQ a priority in my parenting. So I spent three years researching, designing and developing games, videos, and tools to make practicing better behavior fun, and just launched a whole line of “Q” toys by EQtainment in Target stores nationwide.

Our goal is to raise resilient kids who grow up to inspire others by their character, communication, and leadership. We are always looking for ways to impact our kids, to be a part of their school day and to leave them with eternal lessons. Most importantly, we are desperate for more ways to interact and spend time with our kids. So why not spend time practicing key skills and lessons that can lead our children to these great heights. And why not make the journey fun, by starting with something simple, like family game night?

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