Thoughtful Parenting: Strengthen your child’s EQ (Emotional Intelligence) |

Thoughtful Parenting: Strengthen your child’s EQ (Emotional Intelligence)

Barbara Gueldner/For Steamboat Today

Parents often wonder if their children are smart enough to do well enough in school and get a good job. We live in a high pressure society where we sometimes hyper-focus on grades and test scores. However, there's more to being successful in life than "book smarts."

In the mid 1990s, many years after intelligence tests were developed to predict success, scientists began talking more about emotional intelligence (EQ). They argued that having a sense of your own and others' feelings, knowing how to deal with emotions like anger, anxiety and sadness, empathizing with others and using your emotional state productively during the day, are strongly related to personal success. In fact, psychologists estimate that these skills may be more important than having expertise in your job.

Consider what happens when you lose your temper with a co-worker, or you express irritation with a customer, or you don't speak up in a meeting because you worry you'll sound incompetent. You might be very skilled at your job — you know what to do and you do it well. However, these glitches in your EQ can lead to strained relationships with your co-worker, a lost sale or missed opportunities for you to share your expertise and allow others to learn from you.

There are ways for parents and adults who care about children to coach kids to strengthen their EQ. Schools are infusing emotional learning into everyday curriculum and finding promising results. In a large-scale study, students who participated in these programs experienced fewer psychological and behavior problems and performed better in school.

Parents and adult caregivers have a direct role in building EQ. We do this by:

• Tuning in to our own emotional worlds

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• Making sense of how our caregivers dealt with emotions

• Using children's books and media to make learning about emotions fun

• Helping children identify their emotions and using words to describe how they feel

• Setting limits on misbehavior while empathizing with disappointment, worry and anger

• Showing our kids it's OK to make mistakes and describe how we try again, rather than give up

On Thursday, May 5, we'll begin a five-week class on coaching your child to a stronger EQ. We'll talk about the topics listed, watch EQ in action and practice strategies. Much of the content will be based on the books “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child” and “No Drama Discipline.” This is information we wish we had as children but can now give to ourselves and our kids. Dinner and child care are provided.

For information, contact Stephanie Martin of First Impressions at 970-870-5270 or

Barbara Gueldner, PhD, MSE, is a licensed psychologist who works with children, families and community partners. She has a private practice in Steamboat Springs. She is the co-author of the social and emotional learning curricula “Strong Kids and Strong Teens” (1st and 2nd editions) and the book “Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom.” Find her at