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For Children - Emotional Intelligence Means Being Smart with Your Feelings

This article is written for children to read or for an adult to read to a child.

When I was a kid, no one taught me about feelings.   Even when I took psychology in college I still didn’t learn why sometimes I felt angry or sad or worried or happy — and that I had a choice about my feelings.  I noticed that I had different feelings, and other people did too.  I noticed that sometimes I could get more of what I wanted by using the feelings that matched the situation, but a lot of the time it seemed like feelings were something that just happened to me.

How about you? Have you learned much about your feelings?  How have you learned that?

Do you feel in charge of your feelings, or does it seem like they’re in charge of you?  Are there some feelings that are easier for you to understand, but others that are more confusing?

Almost accidentally, I started working in a job where I was teaching people about feelings, so I had to learn a lot!  I read, talked to work friends, and paid much closer attention to my own and others’ reactions.  I’ve enjoyed this learning about emotional intelligence and it’s helping me be happier, stronger, and accomplish more, so I want to share some of the ideas with you.

“Emotional intelligence” means being smart with feelings. Emotional intelligence allows us to make good decisions and work well with others.

What is Intelligence?

Some people have not heard about emotional intelligence; it’s pretty much like other forms of intelligence.  So what is “intelligence”?  Someone who is intelligent is able to gather information and use it to solve problems. For example, if someone is smart about math, what can they do well?  They pay close attention to numbers, and are accurate.  Then they use that information to solve maths problems (such as how to divide fractions).
Pretty much the same is true for emotional intelligence. People who are smart with emotions notice and can accurately describe feelings. They can use feelings to solve problems (such as how to be a good friend).

Why does Emotional Intelligence Matter?

A few years ago, a work friend of mine, Anabel Jensen, and I, asked students how learning about emotions helped them.  Here are a few of the answers from kids:
I felt more included.
I felt less alone.
I learned how to listen to people.
I learned how to be a better friend and to ask my friends to be better friends.
We were working together to make everybody’s life better.
I felt more in charge of my own feelings.

How does that sound to you?

Emotional Intelligence Helps Children be Smart About Feelings

In the last few years, a lot of research has been conducted to measure how emotional intelligence skills help people.  The research, and our experience teaching about emotions, says that