page contents

Emotional Intelligence and Resilience  

Emotional Intelligence has become a relatively common concept in our language, thanks in large part to Daniel Goleman’s 1995 best selling book by that name.  Part of the book’s message is that our ability to manage and use emotions in our lives is just as important, if not more important, than “regular intelligence” in achieving life success.  The skills that make up emotional intelligence can also be thought of as a good foundation for developing resilience. 

Some of the things that go into emotional intelligence are the ability to recognize and accept our own emotions, tolerate unpleasant emotions and soothe ourselves when we experience them, and accurately recognize the emotional experiences and cues of other people. 

One of the best things we can do to help children develop emotional intelligence is to validate their emotions.  That means, first and foremost, accepting what they are feeling rather than trying to talk them out of or to change what they are feeling.

We often think of emotions as being either good or bad.  The problem with this is we tend to try to get rid of “bad” emotions.  When children express “bad” emotions to us we may try to talk them out of feeling those emotions, tell them they shouldn’t feel those emotions, or they are really feeling something else.  This leads them to question their own experience or place a negative evaluation on some of their experience - not a good foundation for emotional intelligence.

It is more useful to think of emotions as pleasant or unpleasant.  We enjoy some and don’t enjoy others, but they aren’t good or bad.  They give us useful information about our experience and help us make better decisions about our lives.  Validating children’s feelings helps them develop this attitude toward their own emotions.  Later I will address how to help children tolerate unpleasant feelings.

Previous                                                                               Next