Developing a child’s emotional intelligence through 4-H

Helping a child learn to use a set of abilities known as emotional intelligence is believed to significantly increase their future success potential.

Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is a relatively new concept developed by clinical psychologist and author Daniel Goleman. In his book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman shares that he believes emotional intelligence is a greater predictor of success than intellect.

Goleman introduces five areas of skill that make up emotional intelligence. Intrapersonal skills include self-regard, emotional self-awareness, assertiveness, independence and self-actualization. The second skill set considers interpersonal skills such as empathy, social responsibility and interpersonal relationships. Adaptability is the third skill, which includes reality testing, flexibility and problem solving. Goleman then introduces stress management as the forth skill set of emotional intelligence, where he explores stress tolerance and impulse control. The final emotional intelligence skill area is general mood that assesses the level of optimism and happiness.   

People who have a high level of emotional intelligence are able to relate positively with others through appropriate interactions. They gain the trust of others while making their peers feel valued. Children with well-developed emotional intelligence skills tend to have greater success in school and healthier relationships. 

Goleman asserts that emotional intelligence skills can be taught to children. Youth who participate in 4-H have the opportunity to increase their emotional intelligence, as the 4-H youth development program is designed to build a child’s emotional intelligence by developing life skills such as responsibility, listening, teamwork and modeling. Participating in 4-H also teaches a child to build resiliency through challenges as members learn to persevere when a project does not go as planned. They develop social skills while making new friends through 4-H participation.

This is the introductory article in a series that will explore how 4-H can further support youth in developing their emotional intelligence. Other articles in this series include: Part 2 and Part 3.

In addition to this series, a parent resource is also available through the University of Illinois 4-H in the form of an Emotional Intelligence Activities series designed by age group. For more information about resources available through Michigan 4-H Youth Development, contact your local Michigan State University Extension county office.

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