The Paths Toward Emotional Intelligence in Early Childhood Education

It is time for change!  Let  us turn around the focus from IQ to EQ.

In this age of instant outrage, would it be unrealistic to dream of a society where people respect each other, communities cherish peace, generosity, kindness, compassion and empathy? Of course, not at all.  The paths toward Emotional Intelligence could be the way to realize a beautiful dream.  Moreover, these paths also pave the way toward personal success in life.

When emotional intelligence first appeared to the masses in 1995, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ.  Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack.

Emotional Intelligence is an intangible aspect in all of us.  According to research, emotional intelligence is the foundation for a host of critical skills—it impacts most everything you say and do each day. Emotional intelligence is the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.

Another recent study found that kindergartners' social-emotional skills were highly predictive of their academic, economic and social outcomes into adulthood. Using a cluster of indicators – such as "resolves peer problems," "listens to others," "shares materials," "cooperates" and "is helpful" – researchers rated the social-emotional skills of 750 kindergartners on a five-point scale, and then tracked them until they turned 25.

For every one-point increase in the rating of a child's social-emotional skills in kindergarten, he or she was twice as likely to earn a college degree, 54 percent more likely to earn a high school diploma and 46 percent more likely to hold a full-time job at age 25.

For every one-point decrease, on the other hand, a child was 67 percent more likely to have been arrested and 82 percent more likely to be in or on a waiting list for public housing – two decades after kindergarten.

The greater the difference between kindergartners' social-emotional skills, the bigger the difference in their outcomes by the age of 25. Children who scored at the higher end of the spectrum, for example, were four times more likely to obtain a college degree than children who scored at the lower end. Studies of kindergartners' test scores show nothing even close to these results.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) is a term created by two researchers – Peter Salovey and John Mayer – and popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name. We define EI as the ability to: Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions. Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of other people.

Emotions are states of feeling that result in physical and psychological changes that influence our behavior.   Our behavior is affected by our emotion.  Simply, we can say that if we feel good, we think good and behave positively.  On the other hand, if we feel bad, we think bad and behave negatively.  Here are examples of emotions:
  Affection, Anger, Anguish,  Annoyance, Anticipation Anxiety, Apathy, Arousal, Awe, Boredom, Confidence Contempt, Contentment, Courage, Curiosity, Depression Desire, Despair, Disappointment, Disgust, Distrust, Ecstasy Embarrassment, Empathy, Enthusiasm, Envy, Euphoria, Fear Frustration, Gratitude, Grief, Guilt, Happiness, Hatred, Hope Horror, Hostility, Humiliation, Interest, Jealousy, Joy, Loneliness, Love, Lust, Outrage, Panic, Passion, Pity, Pleasure, Pride, Rage, Regret, Remorse, Resentment, Sadness Self-confidence, Shame, Shock, Shyness, Sorrow, Suffering, Surprise, Trust, Wonder, Worry.

One common emotion of our time is hatred.  Hate is a deep and extreme emotional dislike, especially invoking feelings of anger or resentment. It can be directed against individuals, groups, entities, objects, behaviors, or ideas. Hatred is often associated with feelings of anger, disgust and a disposition towards hostility. This was the case when a teenage gunner killed l7 people at a Parkland, Florida high school weeks ago.

According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize EQ, there are five main elements of emotional intelligence:

1.  Self-awareness:

Self-awareness is the mental picture young children have of who they are in relation to the world. . It means discovering their bodies and emotions and realizing body differences in relation to their peers.

Self –awareness helps young children learn that how they see themselves may be different from how others see them.  Children who are self-aware are more able to recognize their strengths as well as their weaknesses.  Rich learning play activities that cater to this development will help the child make positive connections with his body and society as a whole.

2.  Self-regulation:

Self-regulation requires a child to develop the ability to manage his emotions and control bodily functions as well as maintain focus and attention (Gillespie & Seibel, 2006).  Through play, children learn self-regulation.  Teachers support children’s learning in play by becoming co-players, guiding and acting as role models.

3.  Motivation:

Fun, excitement, laughter and joy are the key elements that help motivate kids to play and learn. 

 Encourage kids to make decision for themselves, to own their lives a little and to contribute their thoughts to family activities, rules and experiences. Empowerment is the powerhouse of motivation.
4.  Empathy: Incorporated with Active Listening Skills
Empathy is, at its simplest, means awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, the link between self and others, because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves.

Active listening is a way for teachers and parents to convey interest and full attention to what a child is saying.  As a parent or teacher, you should make eye contact,  stop what you are doing and  get down on the  child’s level. You reflect or repeat back what he/she is saying and what he/she  may be feeling to make sure you understand. When you actively listen to your young child, a strong relationship develops. As your child grows, if you continue to actively listen to her, your relationship will continue to get stronger. A strong relationship with your child will make it more likely that he or she will talk with you about his/her hopes and problems when he/she is older.

5. Social skills:
Social skills are behaviors that promote positive interaction with others and the environment.  Some of these skills include showing empathy, generosity, participation in group activities, helpfulness, communicating with others, negotiating and problem solving.  

There are several paths toward instilling  Emotional Intelligence in our children.   

Path One:   Explore good storybooks. 

Looking at the pictures and listening to the stories, children gain insights about positive behaviors.  They learn healthy ways to control powerful emotions and face difficulties.
From my library, I found several    children's story books which promote self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills, the five main aspects of EQ.  Here are twenty one of them:

l.  Grandma Lives In Us

Simone sat down on the floor in one corner of the room, numbed with shock.  She whispered, "Dead, dead, dead, Grandma is dead."  Trying to understand what happened, Simone tried to remember the times she had heard the word "dead"

 Playing out Simone's idea, her aunts and uncles tried to look and act like Grandma.  This was not a difficult thing to do since they all knew their mother's mannerism, how she spoke, and how she looked like.  Sadness left the room as the Grandma play-acting session brought smiles all around.

Simone looked happily at each member of her family, and whispered, "Goodbye, Grandma.  You still live in my family.  You live in us!"

Lesson learned:  With the help of her family, a young girl named Simone, was able  to  regulate herself, as she tuned in to the joy of being with her loving family, in the middle of a sad event.  Demonstrations of love, caring and empathy by the members of the family made Simone cherish their qualities,  compared them to her dear grandmother and gladly accepted her passing away.
2.  A Salmon for Simon

He would dig a channel for the salmon to swim down to the sea.  That was what he had to do.  Simon began to dig.  The wet sand was heavy.  He dug and dug.  After a while, he stopped and looked to see how far he had gone, but he had not gone very far at all.  He kept on digging.  His mother called him for supper, but he couldn't go because he hadn't finished yet.  The salmon was lying quietly now in the shallow water, waiting.

Lesson learned: Simon felt and understand what the fish was needing to stay alive.  Empathy and self-regulation were vividly demonstrated in the story.

 3.  Are you my Mother?

 Lesson learned:  The goal of the baby bird was to find her mother which served as a strong motivator for the little bird to try its very best to realize the goal.  The little bird turned into other creatures to ask help which vividly demonstrated social skills.

4.  You're All My Favorites,   SamMcBratney

 So that night the three baby bears asked their daddy bear,
"Which one of us do you like most?"
"Even with no patches?"
"Patches don't matter at all," replied his daddy as he tucked him in.
"Even if I'm not a boy?"
"Girl or boy, it makes no difference." said her daddy, and he hugged her tight.
"Even if I'm the littlest?"
"Bigly or littley, we love you just the same.

 Lesson learned:  The parent bears instilled self awareness and self acceptance in their baby bears.  They demonstrated non-judgement and
showed love for each one without rating, without evaluating their physical attributes.

5. The Shape of Me and Other Stuff

 Lesson learned:  Self awareness is vividly demonstrated in this book.  As you get to know yourself more, you become truthful, funny and creative.

6. My Many Colored Days

Lesson learned: "A cozy book to curl up with on gray days and pink days alike." - Miami Herald
"Helps small children realize that they have moods, too, and all of them are human and acceptable." - Los Angeles Times Book Review.  Self-awareness was demonstrated in this book.

7.  Pinocchio

Geppetto took Pinocchio home.  As he wept a soft voice said,  "Pinocchio, you've proved yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish.  Now you will be a real boy."
Pinocchio moved and blinked his eyes.  He was alive...and no longer wooden.  Geppetto danced for joy.

Lesson learned:  The wooden child was motivated to be a real boy by being brave, truthful and unselfish.  He was given the freedom to decide for himself, to experience the good and bad episodes of being alive.

8.  Worried Little Lamb  by: Valerie Guidoux, adapted by Patricia Jensen

Lesson learned: This is a heartwarming tale of little animals growing up.  With the guidance of adult animals, little Lamb got to know herself more and learned to trust herself for what she could do.

9. Pooh's Puzzling Plant   Adapted by:  Agnes Sumner

Pooh looked back at his plant.  It had big leaves and the ends of the vine were curly, like springs.  Pooh studied the flower.
"Think, think, think,"  he said to himself.  "Rabbit gave me a pumpkin seed.  So why would it grow into a cucumber?  I'll keep caring for this plant and see what happens.

Lesson learned: Self-regulation and motivation were demonstrated by Pooh bear.   He learned how to be patient and to trust his feelings.

10.  Pooh's Honey Hunt, written by Lindsay Morgan

Lesson learned: Social skill was demonstrated in this story.  Pooh and his friends helped each other in hunting for honey.  Later, they had fun sharing the delicious result of their cooperative efforts.

10.  Tigger Takes Over, written by:  Agnes Sumner

 Tigger thought for a moment.  "You're right.  I don"t partickerlerly like it when Rabbit tries to tell me how to bounce."
Tigger found a basket and filled it with a whole bunch of haycorns.  Then, he bounced them over to Piglet's house.
"These are for you 'cause I'm sorry," explained Tigger.  "This being in charge stuff isn"t as easy as I thought."

Lessons learned:  Self-awareness and Self-regulation were demonstrated by Tigger in this story.  With negative feedbacks from his friends, he learned that his aggressiveness made his friends mad and sad.  He apologized and changed himself for the better.

11.  Eeyore Has Enough, Adapted by:  Gene RazzO


Lesson learned:  Social skill and self-regulation were demonstrated by Tigger and Eeyore in this story.  They both learned that talking about their differences helped to enjoy each other's friendship.

12.  Pooh's First Day of School, Kathleen W. Zoehfeld

Lesson learned:  Christopher Robin taught Tigger that there was a place and time for everything.  The playground was a place to play and the classroom was a place to listen and behave.  Self-regulation was demonstrated in this animal tale.

13.     A Big Fat Enormous Lie (M.Sharmat, 1978)

 " I lied to you.  I know who ate the cookies.  Someone I like very much ate the cookies.  He sort of ate one and then he sort of ate another and then he sort of ate another.  He sort of ate all the cookies in the jar. Yes, I sort of ate them. Me. Your son.  Are you going to do anything about it, Father? Mother?"

Lesson learned: After being troubled by his conscience for telling a lie, a young boy finally decided to be brave,  told the truth to his parents,  ready to face the consequences of being truthful.  Self-regulation was demonstrated in this storybook.

14.  When I Feel Good about Myself

Lesson learned: The author uses simple and reassuring language to help young children understand and manage the feelings and relate successfully to others.

15. Pierre's Friends

Lesson learned: Empathy and social skills were demonstrated in this animal tale.

l6.  A Promise is a Promise

The Qallupilluit yelled and screamed and pounded the ice till it broke.  They begged and pleaded and asked to that the children but Allashua said,  "A promise is a promise."  Then the Qallupilluit jumped down to the bottom of the sea and took their cracks with them, and the whole ocean of ice became perfectly smooth.

Lesson learned:  In times of difficulty, the family worked together to solve a problem.  Motivated by love, the family cooperated in playing a game with an imaginary Inuit creature called Qallupilluit.

17.  Sea Otter Pup

Soon Pup will begin to follow her deep down below the waves, and he will learn to find food for himself.

Lesson learned:  Pup may be little, but he has big lessons to learn.   The love and caring  shown by Pup's mother motivated the young pup to be independent someday. 

18.  The Search For The Great Valley(A. Lucas/Spielberg presentation, l988)

"My heart....." Littlefoot murmured.  "My heart tells me they're my friends.  I have to help them.  Without me to show them the way, they have no hope.  And I have learned that that is the most terrible thing of all."

Lesson learned:  With the loving spirit of his mother guiding and motivating him, Littlefoot regulated himself.  Thus, he was able to find the difficult path to the Great Valley.  However, he decided to help and show the way to his friends too. 

19.  Julie At The Farm, by Mireille Van Wilderode

Lesson learned:  Julie's mother asked her to get some eggs at Mr. Munch's farm.  The farmer has a lot of work to do and Julie decided to give him a hand.  Social skills, empathy and self-regulation were demonstrated in this story.

20.  That's What Friends Are For (Walt Disney Productions, l98l)

With one great splash, Tod clutched the vine in his teeth.  He held it very tight.  Then Copper slowly pulled him to the shore.

Safe at last, Tod smiled at his friend.  "Copper," he said, "you're the greatest!"   The little hound smiled back.  "It was nothing,"  he said.  "You would have done the same for me."

Lesson learned:  This is an animal tale which demonstrated social skills, empathy and self-regulation.

21.  Monsters, Inc. (Disney's Wonderful World of Reading)

Times passed, and Sulley turned the Scream Floor into a Laugh Floor.

There, monsters made kids laugh instead of scream to get energy.  Boo had showed them that laughter was ten times as powerful as screams.  The energy crisis was over in Monstropolis!  Still, Sulley missed his little friend, Boo.  So one day, Mike glued her entire door back together.  That way, Sulley could visit Boo whenever he liked!  And that's just what he did!

Lesson learned: Empathy was shown by monster Sulley when he turned the scream floor into a laugh floor.  It was a win-win situation, he made kids laughed while getting the energy needed in Monstropolis.

         Path Two: Nature Play





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