Kids attend school to learn about math, science, history, and many other subjects. But, one thing that’s never on teachers’ lesson plans is emotional intelligence (EQ) and social emotional learning (SEL). EQ is the ability to recognize, understand, control and express emotions, whereas SEL is the process by which you learn the skills needed to manage emotions, feel empathy, and maintain relationships with others. Why should schools start to teach these two concepts? Here are some of the many reasons:
A number of studies have been conducted to determine how EQ affects a person’s life. These studies have shown that kids who develop these skills early on in life are more likely to have better careers, longer marriages, and good health. These children are also less likely to suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. The results show the importance of incorporating these concepts into the classroom. If kids learn these skills early, they can greatly improve their lives.
Unique to Humans
Machines are taking over more and more jobs in the U.S., but something these robotic workers don’t have is emotional intelligence. Soft skills such as stress management, empathy, communication, and persistence are seen as unique to humans. Kids will need these skills in order to compete for jobs in the future and show that they cannot be replaced by a machine.
Kids with high EQs are less likely to be affected by a mean comment or unpleasant experience. For example, a child who is laughed at by his peers for crying in class was able to recognize that although some children were laughing at him for crying, others were only laughing because they were uncomfortable. The ability to identify the cause of someone’s behavior, in this case, the fact that children felt uncomfortable, allowed the child to move on quickly from the incident. If the child did not have high EQ, this event could have affected him for a significant period of time.
Teaching kids important social skills can also improve their IQs, according to researchers at Loyola University and the University of Illinois. These researchers found that children who were taught social and emotional learning scored 11 percentile points higher than children who were not. The researchers believe this is because emotional and social learning helps the prefrontal cortex develop, which improves the child’s ability to control impulses, solve problems, retain information, and plan ahead.
One aspect of emotional and social learning is teaching kids how to take responsibility for their actions. For instance, let’s say a child throws a temper tantrum because his mother will not take him for ice cream. A child with high emotional intelligence will be able to recognize that he acted out not because life is unfair, but rather because he was frustrated when he did not get his way. A child with this level of emotional intelligence will take responsibility for his actions instead of spending the rest of the day pouting and angry at his mother.
Unfortunately, many kids will not get to reap the rewards of social and emotional learning because their schools have not yet realized their importance. If you believe that EQ and SEL should be a part of your child’s curriculum, contact the school board and voice your concerns. Then, ask other parents to do the same. Together, you can improve the lives of your children by ensuring they are taught these crucial skills.
All photos from Shuterstock
Guest Author Bio
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety