Emotional Intelligence in Students

Chris Ivey / Academic

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a vital foundation that is developed

21 February 2020

Emotional Intelligence in Students

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a vital foundation that is developed through childhood and adolescence by both parents and teachers. When it comes to contentment and fulfilment in life, emotional intelligence matters just as much as intellectual ability (IQ). Emotional intelligence helps build stronger relationships, succeed in life, and achieve social, schooling, career and personal goals.

The key is guided and structured independence that allows students to experience discomfort in a safe environment. It requires parents to step back and watch from a distance and step in only when required to provide guidance and remind their children that a safe environment exists.

Why develop emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of daily life, such as the way one behaves and the way one interacts with others.

If we have high emotional intelligence, we can recognise our own emotional state, the emotional states of others and engage with people in a way that draws them to us instead of away. We can use this understanding of emotions to relate better to other people, form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at school/work, and lead a more fulfilling life.

Emotional intelligence consists of four attributes:

Self-awareness – You recognise your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
Self-management – You can control impulsive feelings and behaviours, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organisation.
Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, encourage, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.

Why is emotional intelligence so important?

It’s common knowledge that it’s not the smartest people (IQ) that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. We all probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work relationships or in their personal relationships. Intellectual intelligence (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to experience fulfilment in life. Yes, IQ can help a student get into University, but it’s their EQ that will help them manage the stress and emotions when facing tough exams, living independently or life’s ups and downs.  EQ will create opportunities for success, better mental health and resilience and thus it’s important to work on it and develop it further while still at a young age.

How to raise emotional intelligence?

All information to the brain comes through our senses, and when this information is overwhelmingly stressful or emotional, instinct will take over and our ability to act will be limited to the flight, fight, or freeze response. Therefore, to have access to the wide range of choices and the ability to make good decisions, we need to be able to bring our emotions into balance at will.

We ask all students at St Andrew’s to make the most of their opportunities, both curricular and co-curricular. We work hard to create a safe environment where students can feel like it’s ok to have a go, it’s ok to fail, or to ‘stuff it up’, or be last in something. It’s ok at St Andrew’s to feel those emotions that are negative and learn to deal with them. Students learn to reflect on themselves and their behaviour/responses and develop new ways of handling difficult situations.

Memory is also strongly linked to emotion. By learning to use the emotional part of the brain as well as the rational, you’ll not only expand your range of choices when it comes to responding to a new event, but also factor in emotional memory into the decision-making process. This will help to prevent continually repeating earlier mistakes.

To improve emotional intelligence—and decision-making abilities—it’s important to understand and control the emotional side of the brain. This is done by developing five key skills. By mastering the first two skills, skills three, four, and five will be much easier to learn.

Developing emotional intelligence through five key skills:

EQ consists of five key skills, each building on the last:

  1. The ability to quickly reduce stress
  2. The ability to recognise and manage your emotions
  3. The ability to connect with others using nonverbal communication
  4. The ability to use humour and lightheartedness or play to deal with challenges
  5. The ability to resolve conflicts positively and with confidence

What can parents do?

Parents should model resilience, good EQ and not overly protect their children from difficult or tough situations. We can respond with empathy but not try to ‘solve’ things for them. All children need to develop strategies to cope when in situations that are uncomfortable…in other words students need the emotional strategies to be comfortable and think clearly in uncomfortable situations.

At St Andrew’s students are provided opportunities and experiences that will challenge and allow growth in their resilience and emotional intelligence. These opportunities are structured and purposeful and are scaffolded in such a way that at the end of Year 12 students will feel they have the tools to meet a wide variety of different or difficult challenges. The most important thing we can do as parents is allow them to feel independence, to allow them to make mistakes, so they experience those negative feelings of frustration and failure and learn how to deal with them. This will result in our young people being more capable and responsible for their own wellbeing and growth.

Brad Bowen
Deputy Principal/ Head of Secondary

Author Profile

Chris Ivey

In his own words, Chris “enables things to happen” at St Andrew’s. As Principal of the College, he leads the development and progression of St Andrew’s by enabling staff and students to achieve their personal best. Chris is a Reverend and has been the Principal of St Andrew’s for more that 15 years. He also represents and advocates for Independent schools across Australia as the National Chair of AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Australia).

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