Strengthening your mood with 4-H through emotional intelligence

Teaching youth how to utilize the emotional intelligence skill of optimism can be an incredibly useful tool.

The ability to have good thoughts even when something seems terrible is known as Optimism. Optimism is another of the emotional intelligence skills, also known as EQ that Michigan State University Extension will explore in this article. Clinical psychologist and author Daniel Goleman states that EQ might matter more than IQ when it comes to life successes. This is the last article in a series that explores how 4-H can help youth develop their emotional intelligence skills.

Negative self-talk can have a great impact on a person’s level of optimism; in many cases it is with thoughts that are illogical. 4-H leaders can help youth understand that negative feelings result from negative thoughts. Helping youth understand that they do not have to feel unhappy about things outside of their control is one way to counter negative self-talk. Within the supportive 4-H setting, a role leaders can take is to help members understand that by simply changing their thoughts to be more positive youth can increase their level of optimism.

Happiness is another emotional intelligence skill necessary for optimism. Through involvement in 4-H, members learn to celebrate accomplishments and feel good about themselves while having fun with their peers. Volunteers working with youth who have faced challenges can encourage the members not to focus on the negatives but to think about and celebrate the positive successes they have had instead. This allows the youth to seek out what constructive skill they developed from the challenge and how they overcame it; resulting in fostering optimism.

Through participation in camps, school enrichment, clubs and special events 4-H is in a unique position to support youth development by creating emotionally safe environments. This encourages members to take risks resulting in increased confidence while achieving success.

A series of Emotional Intelligence Activities is available for parents or other adults working with youth through The University of Illinois 4-H which is designed for different age groups. For more information about resources available through Michigan 4-H Youth Development contact your local MSU Extension office.

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