Emotional Intelligence | Main Page on Education


EQ News! - Vol. 1, Issue 1


Editor's Perspective Interview with Peter Salovey
What is Emotional Intelligence? School Profile of the Month
What Have Studies Found? Consultants Corner - S. Hein


Editor's Perspective

Welcome to the premier issue of EQ News! A newsletter on how to raise emotionally intelligent children, developed solely for school teachers, counselors and other educators.

We all know that children who have healthy self esteem and are happy, are better learners. Also, in order for a child to feel good about himself, he needs to feel cared for, valued, important, respected, loved, understood, listened to, acknowledged and capable.

Yet, the reality is that many children and young adults today do not feel good about themselves. Many feel hopeless, worthless, unimportant, unheard and misunderstood. Increases in school dropouts, drug use, teenage pregnancy, gangs and youth violence are the sad signs of low self esteem, unhappiness, and unmet emotional needs. Such evidence reveals that we can no longer dismiss the feelings of children. When we dismiss, deny, or invalidate a child's feelings he learns not to trust his feelings and instincts - in essence he learns not to trust his mind, his most valuable asset. When this happens his self esteem and self confidence begin to suffer.

These are some of the reasons the book "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman is being so widely accepted. With the help of scientific studies he redefines and broadens the term intelligence to mean more than just IQ.

In fact, in a society that emphasizes IQ, it is ironic to find that studies show that IQ accounts for only 10-20% when determining life success. Maybe this is why Goleman refers to EQ as the "master aptitude" because it guides the use of our intellect and other abilities.

More importantly, researchers explain that EQ can be improved upon, and this to me is encouraging; however, I believe preventative medicine would suggest we begin teaching emotional skills at an earlier age.

Lastly, this newsletter is truly about sharing information. Therefore, in upcoming issues book reviews will be added in order to help clarify the definition and application of emotional intelligence among the multitude of books coming out on the subject.

Pranita Patel

What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

Teacher: How are you feeling, Tom? You look a little down.

Tom: I'm really upset, I got a "D" on the test, and I really studied.

Teacher: I can understand why you would be upset, it sounds like you really wanted to do well on this test.

Tom: I sure did!

Teacher: What would help you feel better?

Tom: I guess if I understood why I did so poorly on the test, then I would know how to do better next time.

Teacher: Can you think of anything you might do differently?

Tom: Well, I guess I could get some help studying or I could study longer, or .........

The above dialogue displays some of the following EQ skills.

Emotional Intelligence is a broad term, but at its core is the ability to identify and label your feelings. This can be done by using simple three word sentences beginning with "I feel ___." From this come other abilities, for example

What Have Studies Found?

Researchers have found that children with high EQ:

An Interview with Peter Salovey, co-developer of the term "Emotional Intelligence" (Part 1 of 2)

Peter Salovey is Professor of Psychology, Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University. He along with John Mayer, Professor at the University of New Hampshire are credited with coining the term "emotional intelligence."

EQ News: How do you define EQ?

Salovey: We define EQ as a set of competencies that have to do with understanding emotions in oneself and in others, regulating emotions in oneself and in others. Most importantly being able to use your emotions as a source of information with problem solving, being creative, and dealing with social situations.

EQ News: How do you define emotions and why are they important?

Salovey: Emotions are a system that we have evolved in our body that comes from our animal ancestors. They really function to alert us that there is something in the environment requiring our attention. For example fear alerts us that there is something threatening, sorrow alerts us we need help, it also alerts other members of our species that we need help.

EQ News: How do children primarily learn about emotions?

Salovey: In general, we can ask the question how do children learn about anything? The most frequent way children learn about anything is through observation and modeling. They literally see other people handling emotional situations in certain ways and they model or imitate. The most common people they imitate are their parents, siblings, peers, and teachers.

EQ News: Do you think that most families are or are not doing a good job of teaching emotional skills?

Salovey: It is a very hard question to answer. I think most families have not thought much about emotions and emotion related skills. Some people may naturally teach it without thinking about it very much, but I think the reality is that most families probably pay very little attention to it.

EQ News: What are the consequences of dismissing a child's feelings?

Salovey: I don't think there has been any research that looks at this specifically. Certainly one could guess that what happens is that the child learns that feelings are not important, or that he should ignore his feelings because they don't matter to anybody else. Also, the child could potentially grow up into someone who believes that it is appropriate to ignore feelings in himself or in others.

EQ News: Why is EQ gaining popularity?

Salovey: I think the main reason EQ is gaining popularity nowadays is because Daniel Goleman wrote a very readable and accessible book on the topic.

Another reason is because people are very frustrated with the traditional debate about IQ, What is it? Is it inherited? Is it environmental? and I think they resonate toward an argument that there's more to intelligence than just traditional IQ testing. EQ News: Since children learn emotional skills from teachers also, how important is the emotional level of teachers?

Salovey: Teachers who are comfortable with and who understand their own emotions and the emotions of others, in other words teachers who are emotionally intelligent, are certainly going to be better at teaching these skills to children. I think it would be very hard for a teacher to deal with all this emotional content if they were uncomfortable dealing with it themselves.

EQ News: How could a teacher go about improving his or her emotional skills?

Salovey: I think there are two important things to do. One is to read literature, fiction, like real serious classic literature, where authors have done a very good job writing about the feeling life of characters.

The other thing is to role play, practice, literally stage with another person, heavy emotional situations. You do this with a spouse or friend and talk about feelings. Just learn to talk about them in context.

Peter Salovey, of Yale University, is a co-originator of the term emotional intelligence. EQ News! thanks him for his time and thoughts.

Question of the Month: Whose needs and feelings are more important: the child's or the teacher's, and why?

School Profile of the Month - Sarah Scott Middle School in Terre Haute, Indiana

Sarah Scott is an inner city school which has seen a dramatic decline in student suspensions since implementing emotional skills into its curriculum.

Sandra Kelley, principle at the middle school, whose previous experience includes helping start an alternative high school, says,

"It was obvious from the beginning that the students had dropped out of school because they were not connected in any way emotionally with the schools, and because their own emotional baggage interfered with any kind of effective functioning. The strategies therefore, were developed to capitalize on and improve the emotional state of mind of most students. When I went on to middle school, I found the same to be true. Students who felt safe, respected, and valued were the ones who tended to achieve in school subjects. More often these qualities were derived from school personnel--not only the counselor, but teachers, secretaries, cooks, custodians, etc.

Ms. Kelley goes on to say that in today's society there clearly is a need for both academics and emotional skills; and individuals who would like to focus only on the 3R's are "living in a world that no longer exists." She states we can no longer think in terms of one or the other if the purpose is to raise young adults who are productive " academically, socially, and emotionally."

The faculty at Sarah Scott have found that an emotional skills program that is integrated into a curriculum works better than one that is isolated. Joe Salisbury, Counselor Dean, at the school explains that the underlying , driving force of all education at the school reflects some process of teaching conflict resolution, empathy, responsibility, and feelings. In regards to his own position, Mr. Salisbury sees himself more as a facilitator than as a counselor, helping students understand the feelings behind the behavior.

The school was also recognized in 1995 by the National Education Goals Panel for its Parent Empowerment Project. Ms. Kelley states the program began on the "assumption that it is more effective to work with the entire family and proceed in the same direction than to work only with the child and perhaps move in different directions. We also find that parents often exhibit the same misbehaviors and poor strategies that we are striving to change in their children. The same principles apply with parents as with students and teachers. Parents who feel respected, valued and supported tend to be more supportive of the school."

EQ News would like to thank Sandra Kelley and Joe Salisbury for taking time out of there busy schedules for us.

Consultant's Corner by Steve Hein

Emotions are Contagious

"One of the reasons the book Emotional Intelligence is so popular is that it affirms what most teachers and counselors already knew or suspected. For example, research shows that emotions are contagious. This is a simple, common-sense statement. But its very simplicity tempts us to overlook its profound implications for education.

It is even more important when we consider that the transfer of emotion goes in the direction of the most powerful to the least powerful. For example, say you and your class are in a light-hearted mood, having a good time, laughing and making noise. Then your principal walks in with a frown on his face. How long will it take for the mood to change? And what are the chances that the principal will join in the fun if he is already in a foul mood?

Here is another example. You are leading an activity and a jar crashes to the floor. Every eye is upon you, waiting for your reaction. You look over and see a remorseful, guilt-ridden, anxious face.

You have a choice. You can laugh and say with a smile "Oops! Who'd like to help me clean this up?" Or you can scowl and shout "Who did that!? Eric? What's the matter with you? Why can't you be more careful and less of a klutz?" The result of your decision has an emotional impact on every child in the room. Moreover, whatever your choice, you are teaching an emotional lesson. What are you teaching in each case? Well, with the first response you are teaching that it is okay to make mistakes, that accidents are taken in stride and nothing to get upset over, and that you still unconditionally value and approve of your kids. They learn tolerance and acceptance. They feel safe and accepted. They probably also feel relieved given the way they see many adults react.

If you choose the second response, you teach that children need to live in fear of your disapproval and your wrath.

What are the messages the children are learning in each case?

If you choose the second response, you teach that children need to live in fear of your disapproval and your wrath. You demonstrate your intolerance, unacceptance and general anxiety. The children learn:

1. You value the glass jar more than Eric's feelings.

2. When something happens, look for someone to blame, then attack them and add to their emotional injury.

3. The false and counter-productive idea that you help someone by pointing out their deficiencies.

4. It is okay to label someone.

5. You are someone to be feared.

6. You can't control your emotions.

7. You are not a very happy person.

If, however, you chose the first response, the children learn a completely different lesson:

1. It is okay to make mistakes

2. Accidents are taken in stride and nothing to get upset over

3. You still unconditionally value and approve of your kids.

4. Material objects are less important than feelings.

As a result of taking this approach the students learn tolerance and acceptance. They feel safe and accepted. They probably also feel relieved given the way they see many adults react.

In either case, you transfer your emotions and your values. Clearly, you don't intentionally want to spread negative emotions any more than you would intentionally spread a flu virus. For most of us it takes constant vigilance to keep our emotions out of the negative zone, given the stress and demands of the job. The investment you make in your own positive attitude, though, will pay off in lasting dividends, both for you and for your students.

EQ News! - Vol. 1, Issue 3


Editor's Perspective Part Two of John Gottman Interview
Spotlight on a Social Development Program Expanding Emotional Literacy - Steve Hein

Editor's Perspective

Sometimes I'll read or hear something and I'll say to myself "That really makes sense, I'd like to change my thinking and behavior on this matter." If it were only that easy!

I have found that change can sometimes be a frustrating ordeal, especially when it comes to changing decade old habits. Whenever I go back to behaving in the old way, or I say to myself "This time I'll get it right" and I don't - I feel discouraged, disappointed and sometimes even ready to give up.

At times like this the feeling of self doubt may creep in and begin to replace the more positive feelings I may have felt earlier like feeling capable, optimistic, excited and motivated.

Personally this has happened to me several times, especially when I started working on becoming more emotionally intelligent.

Raising one's EQ takes constant self awareness and courage. It asks from us among many things that we be honest with ourselves, that we take responsibility for our feelings and that we expose our vulnerability when we express our feelings to others or when we empathize with others.

Needless to say, at times I haven't had the courage, awareness or understanding to do the things just mentioned and have emotionally beaten myself up because of it. Strangely enough, in situations like this I use emotional intelligence to get through them. I begin by asking myself a simple question, "What am I feeling?" Just being able to identify my feelings helps me feel better, and I resolve that I won't give up on learning, trying, and changing.

I leave you with an ancient proverb I heard recently, "Be not afraid of growing slowly, just standing still."

Pranita Patel

Social Development Program in New Haven, Connecticut, USA - Integrating Emotional Skills Into School Curricula

In the last issue of EQ News!, Dr. John Gottman, Ph.D., asserted that the best way to teach emotional skills is to talk to kids about feelings while they are having them. Likewise, Peter Salovey of Yale University and co-originator of the term "emotional intelligence" said he'd prefer to see "infusion models" where kids learn about emotions while reading, writing, working on math problems, in conflict situations or playing.

Many schools, however, dedicate a separate block of time to building EQ skills. They then encourage their teachers to reinforce the skills throughout the day. In many ways this is similar to how English is formally taught in one period and then mastered through practice, class by class and day by day. This month EQ News features an actual school program uses several ways to build a foundation of EQ skills. We spoke with Ms. Kavanagh, Facilitator of The Social Development Program (SDP) implemented in New Haven Public Schools in Connecticut.

The SDP uses several methods to teach emotional skills to students. "Project Charlie," for example, is used in the elementary grades to teach emotional literacy, one of the core EQ skills. One of the activities, called "The Project Charlie Meeting," involves a cube with a different feeling written on each side. The student who the cube is rolled to must use the feeling word displayed and complete a sentence. For example, if the feeling word "excited" was displayed, the student would complete the sentence, "I feel excited when ____."

Another method used by the SDP is implemented in the sixth grade. In it the students are taught the traditional problem solving method, but with an EQ twist. The six steps to this model are described below.

Step One: Stop, calm down, and think before you act. Learning to stop before acting teaches impulse control. This step includes lessons on stress management - what is stress, what causes it, and what to do when feeling stressed. A breathing technique is taught as one way to calm down.

Step Two: State the problem and how you feel. This step involves determining what the problem is and identifying how you and other's feel. Where as in the past feelings were rarely considered to be important in resolving a problem, Ms. Kavanagh believes they are an integral part of both the problem and the solution. She stresses that feelings are important sources of information just as other "facts" are.

According to Ms. Kavanagh, "feelings are neither bad or good, they just are. What we do with them is what makes the difference." To help students expand their feeling lexicon "feeling dictionaries" are placed up on classroom walls.

Step Three: Set a positive goal. Lessons in this step address questions like: "What is a positive goal?" and "How do I set a goal?" Ms. Kavanagh explains that a positive goal is "one that doesn't hurt anyone and makes the problem better." With their new recognition of the importance of feelings, many schools are now realizing that a problem is not fully resolved until everyone feels better.

Step Four: Think of more than one solution to any problem. Ms. Kavanagh emphasizes that this is a very important skill, "especially in terms of success in life." She says that concentrating on coming up with just one solution is what gets "people backed up into corners, leads them to fight and gets them into trouble."

Step Five: Think ahead to the consequences of each solution. Students are encouraged to think of negative and positive consequences as well as short term and long term consequences. This is not a step that comes naturally to children; a lot of practice and modeling is required to learn this skill. In this step it is important to consider how both you and others will feel, not just what may happen.

Step Six: Try the best plan. This step includes lessons on what goes into making a good plan, and considers emotional variables such as timing, body language, and tone of voice. Ms. Kavanagh said it also emphasizes the importance of action, noting that "the perfect solution is useless if it isn't implemented."

Using the skills taught in the above-mentioned problem solving plan, the Social Development program also offers modules on substance abuse prevention, human growth and development, AIDS prevention, peer pressure and relationships. Here students apply their problem solving skills to critical emotionally charged real life situations.

Ms. Kavanagh believes that "the best teacher's are the one's who integrate the emotional side of life to the daily operation of a classroom. This means the teacher recognizes when a student is upset or distressed and deals with it in an emotionally intelligent way, rather than dismissing or minimizing the importance of the student's feelings."

"When teachers are only focused on the subject," Ms. Kavanagh continued, "the teacher may get through the lesson by going through the motions, however, the distressed child did not learn." Worse still, rather than learning the subject matter, the student may have learned that his or her feelings were not very important. By educating all teachers about the importance of Emotional Intelligence, and by training them with the EQ skills such as empathy, compassion and validation, such situations can be largely prevented.

EQ News! thanks Micky Kavanagh, Facilitator with the Social Development Department, Education Department, City of New Haven, Connecticut, USA


Part Two of Interview with John Gottman

Raising our EQ

"We all have feelings," Gottman says, "that's not the problem! The difficulty is access to our feelings." So how do we gain access to our feelings? The answer is language. It makes sense, words give meaning to our world, through them we gain understanding. Dr. Gottman suggests that those of us who would like to increase our EQ begin by keeping a daily log of our feelings. With time and self awareness our feeling language will become more differentiated and therefore more precise. For example, at the beginning you may say "I feel upset." then as your self awareness and feeling lexicon increase you may instead say "I feel pressured." or whatever emotion you are feeling.

Another way to increase our feeling lexicon is to keep a feelings list in our wallet, purse or pocket somewhere so that it's easy to get. Then, whenever your unable to identify your feelings you can look through the list. For example, a gentleman that Gottman recently met keeps a laminated list of a hundred positive feeling words on one side and a hundred negative feeling words on the other in his wallet.

How Children Form a Self-Concept

EQ News asked Dr. Gottman if the lack of emotional skills is the reason many students graduate from college not knowing themselves, where they want to go, and what they want to do. Gottman answered, "Yes, absolutely, emotional skills is critical to the formation of a self concept." He believes that children form their self concepts in small ways at the beginning, much of it happening around food. He explains, "Kids don't say I would like to be an air traffic controller when I grow up.' they are more likely to say, I don't like it when the peas and the mashed potatoes touch, and I'm not going to eat this.' " What the child is really saying , Gottman says is "I'm a kid who likes separate food." The parent who says "Okay, we will make your plate over again." is really saying that "This little experiment with a small part of your self concept was successful and that I don't mind if you are that person." Because of this the child is more likely to do another experiment with his self concept. Eventually, Gottman says the child is going to say, "I'm the kind of person who likes a challenge, I'm this kind of kid and so on."

A Different Kind of Education

Dr. Gottman is a big believer of individualized education and says that it's not necessary to compare one child to another or force a child to do things academically. He gives an example of a boy named Lupe, who was in a high school dropout program studying to get his GED. Lupe had one interest - the drums. The faculty realizing this interest of his, honored it by building a whole curriculum around the drums. For example, the faculty and Gottman built a mathematics curriculum around vibrating strings. "Lupe just flowered," Gottman says, "he was reading and very interested in life. He was learning about everything through his major interest. One interest leads to another. All you have to do is honor where a kid is at and validate him."

Dr. John Gottman, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at University of Washington and author of "The Heart of Parenting: How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child."


Expanding Emotional Literacy - Steve Hein

First, what is emotional literacy? There are two main components to emotional literacy. The first is the ability to precisely describe your feelings in three word sentences. For example:

I feel afraid. I feel jealous. I feel excited. I feel motivated. I feel challenged. I feel disrespected. I feel appreciated.

The second is the scope of your emotional vocabulary, in other words, how many "feeling words" you can readily access when appropriate.

In order to clarify my terms, I need to emphasize that not all sentences which begin with "I feel..." qualify as emotional literacy. For example, here are four common examples:

I feel like... I feel like a... I feel that... I feel like you...

Let's look at each one.

1. I feel like...

Saying "I feel like hitting someone" is not what I would call emotional literacy. First, it doesn't pass the simple test of being a three word sentence. Of course, it is better than saying "I don't know how I feel," but it is still not the ideal way to express your emotions.

In this case, we are actually describing our emotions in terms of a behavior. Here are some more examples, all of which I don't count as emotional literacy:

I feel like crying.

I feel like telling him off.

I feel like you don't know what you are talking about.

I believe it is more effective, more efficient, more direct and more precise to simply identify the emotion itself, rather than trying to express it in terms of a behavior.

2. I feel like a...

Haven't we all heard someone say "I feel like a loser"? Or, "I feel like such a fool!." First, this not an example of emotional literacy. Second, it is not the kind of self-talk we want to model for our children and students.

When we say "I feel like a... " we are labeling ourselves, not identifying the emotion. And it definitely is not emotionally intelligent to label oneself, particularly with any form of negative label.

Sadly though, negative labels are rampant in our culture. They are so pervasive that they often go unnoticed. It will take a sustained effort on the part of educators and parents to reverse the unhealthy habit of labeling ourselves and each other. By the way, I have a simple policy on labels: Label the emotion, not the person, place or situation.

3. I feel that...

Generally, when we say "I feel that..." we are expressing a thought or a belief, not a feeling. For example:

"I feel that the student teacher ratio is too high."

"I feel that there is too much emphasis on conformity and obedience in our school."

In both cases, either the verb "to think" or "to believe" would be more appropriate.

4. I feel like you...

Nowadays, we all know the importance of "I messages." This is a big improvement over the days when most of us were raised to start out on the attack by saying "you did this" and "you did that" and "you should have done so and so."

But sometimes people mix the old and new approaches. In other words, instead of giving a true "I message" we slip up and deliver a "you message" in disguise, as one woman did in a couples' workshop I conducted. When I asked her to give her partner an I message, telling him exactly how she felt, she quickly glared at him and blurted out "I feel like you are an idiot!"

So, again, to become emotionally literate, stick with three word sentences. By the way, this will force you to improve the second part of emotional literacy, which is an abundant vocabulary of "feeling words." At first, it may be difficult for you to find the precise word to fill in the blank after "I feel," but with time it will get easier. You will then be in a better position to help teach and, more importantly, model emotional literacy for your students.