by Sunel Visser
Intelligence Quotient (IQ) has previously been seen as the primary determinant of success. Teachers, parents and students still attach much value to a high IQ and an excellent school report.
According to Kendra Cherry, author of ‘The Everything Psychology Book’, this approach is (perhaps) too narrow to fully encompass the wide range of human abilities and knowledge.
Cherry indicates that IQ is still recognized as an important element of success, but that this is not the only determinant of life success. Instead, it is part of a complex array of influences that includes emotional intelligence (EI).
The concept of EI began to emerge in the 1990s, with the publication of Daniel Goleman’s book ‘Emotional Intelligence’. EI is the ability to recognize one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour. People skills, personality characteristics and the ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead is generally more important than a good IQ.
Susan Clandillon, a communications officer at European Social Network, says the following: “Being aware of and being able to manage your emotions is key to the development of emotional intelligence, as this will lead to a wider understanding of other people’s emotional responses and will allow you to empathise with them. Emotional intelligence spans skills such as influence, persuasion, self-management and initiative. In terms of employers recruiting for graduate level roles, increasingly they are looking for soft skills such as ability to learn on the job, listening and verbal communication, creative responses to setbacks and a motivation to progress in one’s career.”
A recent article in Time Magazine summarizes it as follows: “Decades of research now point to EI as being the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. The connection is so strong that 90 percent of top performers have high EI.”
According to Linda Lantieri, an internationally known expert in social and emotional learning, it is possible to develop a child’s EI. She mentions that a growing body of research suggests that helping children develop good social and emotional skills early in life makes a big difference in their long-term health and well-being.
The education website Mamasmiles.com describes several ways to improve emotional and social intelligence in children. Activities like free play, pretend play, being in nature, “slow days”, the exploration and labelling of emotions, good manners, eye contact and kindness are important for the development of a child’s EI.
Children learn through healthy family interactions! When parents get upset, they watch to see how parents express those emotions.
When children see parents navigating stress in a healthy way, they are more likely to respond healthily to stress in their own lives.
We are conditioned with the idea that students must get the highest qualified teachers so that they can be equipped with knowledge and academic skills, but pre-schoolers and toddlers need teachers with other skills.
EI forms the basis for the development of the whole child and, eventually, emotionally stable and successful adults.
Sunel Visser is a kindergarten teacher at Mooltripakdee International School.