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Promoting Emotional Intelligence in Children

Written by Lily. Z | Provisional Psychologist, PsychPhys™


Emotional intelligence (EI) can be broadly defined as a person’s ability to accurately perceive, appraise, express and regulate emotions in the self while understanding and respecting the feelings of others (Sánchez-Núñez et al., 2020; Storey-Hurtubise et al., 2021). EI helps us to bring awareness to our feelings as well as regulating our emotional responses so that we are more able to engage in functional behaviour in our everyday life and to achieve our goals (The Gottman Institute, 2016). Research also suggests that EI is twice as strong a predictor as IQ of success in adulthood (Goleman, D., 1996). Below are some tips of how caregivers can encourage the development of EI from a young age.

Validate your child’s feelings.

An important part of promoting EI to young children is to help them understand that experiencing emotions, even the negative ones, is completely normal and healthy. We have to accept that all emotions serve a purpose from an evolutionary and social perspective. For example, both anger and fear are natural, adaptive response to protect us from danger (Cherry, K., 2022). So next time, when you see your child is crying or yelling out of frustration, try validate their feelings by saying “You must be really sad that your friend said that to you.” Or something like “It is okay to feel upset about it.” Validation helps to make your child feel heard, understood and accepted. The intensive of their emotions is also more likely to reduce (The Gottman Institute, 2016).

Recognise and name emotions.

You can support your child to identify emotions by labeling them. This not only helps children to develop more awareness of feelings and emotions but also teaches them the vocablary needed to express them. You can do this by help your child to label his or her emotions. You can also model this to your child by labeling your own emotions (Raising Children, 2021).

Develop problem solving skills.

You can work with your child on a list of things they could do when they experience certain emotions. For examle, to listen to their favouriate songs when they feel sad or to punch a pillow when they feel angry. You and your child can also talk about the kind of behaviours that are appropraite and acceptable versus those that are not when expressing emotions (Raising Children, 2021).


  1. Cherry, K. (2022). 5 Reasons emotions are important. Retrieved July 25, 2022 from
  2. Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  3. Storey-Hurtubise, E., Forristal, J., Henning, C., & Parker, J. D. (2021). Developing Emotional and Social Competencies in Children: Evaluating the Impact of a Classroom-Based Program. Canadian Journal of School Psychology.
  4. Sánchez-Núñez, M. T., García-Rubio, N., Fernández-Berrocal, P., & Latorre, J. M. (2020). Emotional intelligence and mental health in the family: The influence of emotional intelligence perceived by parents and children. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(17), 6255.
  5. The Gottman Institute (2016). How to strengthen your child’s emotional intelligence. Retrieved July 25, 2022 from,self-control%20and%20emotional%20intelligence.