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Fostering Emotional Intelligence in Children: The Power of Presence

Mum holding hands with daughter
maintaining a strong compassionate presence in a child's life

Emotional intelligence (EI) is more than just a buzzword in the realm of child development. It represents a transformative approach to raising children that emphasizes the importance of understanding and managing emotions. In a world that is increasingly interconnected and yet fraught with potential misunderstandings, the ability to accurately perceive and effectively respond to our own emotions and the feelings of others is a critical skill.

E.I. is thus not merely a peripheral aspect of child development, but a core competency that underpins successful navigation of personal and professional relationships throughout life.

However, fostering emotional intelligence in children requires more than simply teaching about emotions in a didactic manner. It necessitates a comprehensive approach that encompasses numerous aspects of a child's environment.

For instance, it involves embedding lessons of empathy and self-awareness

attentive parent with boy
Being fully engaged and attentive

within the curriculum, incorporating problem-solving exercises that encourage emotional resilience, and modelling respectful and caring behaviour. This comprehensive approach to emotional learning enables children to not only understand the basic concepts but to also see them in action and practice them in a supportive environment.

At the heart of this approach to cultivating emotional intelligence is the power of presence. Presence, in this context, refers to the act of being fully engaged and attentive in our interactions with children. It involves being aware of our own emotional state and how it may impact our reactions, truly listening when children express their feelings, and responding in a way that validates their experiences.

By being present, we send the message that their emotions matter and are worth understanding. The significance of this cannot be overstated: when children feel heard and understood, they are more likely to develop a keen sense of self and a deep understanding of others, the cornerstones of emotional intelligence.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a profound concept that revolves around understanding and managing one's own emotions, as well as recognizing and responding appropriately to the emotions of others. It's a multifaceted skill that extends beyond mere emotional awareness; it also encompasses the capacity to apply this understanding in social interactions. Emotional intelligence is about emotional self-regulation, empathy for others, and the ability to establish and maintain positive relationships.

teachers and students around a table
Engage Students in Problem Solving

The role of educators, caregivers, and parents in teaching this skill to children is critical. Emotional intelligence forms a fundamental part of a child's development, significantly influencing their social interactions and emotional wellbeing.

More than just fostering a positive social environment, emotional intelligence

contributes to a variety of important outcomes in children's lives. For instance, it improves students' interactions with others, enabling them to anticipate others' feelings and react in a considerate and understanding manner.

This heightened empathy can often function as a deterrent to bullying, as children with high emotional intelligence are more likely to respect the feelings of their peers and refrain from harmful behaviours.

In addition to these social benefits, emotional intelligence also plays a crucial role in academic success. Rather than being independent realms, emotional and cognitive development are closely intertwined. The skills involved in emotional intelligence, such as self-regulation and empathy, can enhance a student's ability to engage effectively in the learning process. By managing their emotions effectively, students can better focus on tasks, overcome challenges, and work collaboratively with others, all of which contribute to academic achievement​​.

child sitting on books learning
Embed Social and Emotional Learning into Lesson Plans

But the impact of emotional intelligence extends far beyond the classroom. As children mature into adults, the benefits of high emotional intelligence continue to manifest in numerous ways. Individuals with high emotional intelligence are often adept at navigating complex social situations and building strong relationships.

They tend to earn the trust of their superiors, make their colleagues feel valued, and attract admirers with their understanding and empathetic nature. These skills, when learned early in life, help children master the art of relating to others, thereby setting them up for success in personal and professional relationships in adulthood​​.

In essence, fostering emotional intelligence is a long-term investment in a child's future. The skills and understanding gained through developing emotional intelligence serve as a sturdy foundation upon which children can build successful and fulfilling lives.

The Power of Presence: Being Attentive and Mindful

The power of presence is a key ingredient in the process of fostering emotional intelligence. It signifies the act of being fully attentive and attuned to a child's emotional needs, staying present in the moment, and responding thoughtfully rather than reactively.

This concept goes beyond physical presence; it encompasses emotional and psychological availability, providing a supportive environment where children feel safe to express their feelings and thoughts.

When adults maintain a consistent presence, it sends a clear message to children that they are seen, heard, and understood. This sense of validation often has a profound impact on a child's emotional wellbeing, promoting feelings of security and self-worth. It helps to enhance emotional literacy, a critical component of

Child holding onto a balloon in the shape of Earth
Fostering Emotional Intelligence in Children

emotional intelligence, enabling children to identify and articulate their emotions more effectively.

The ability to comprehend and communicate their feelings equips children with tools to better manage their emotional responses, fostering healthier interactions with their peers and adults.

Lael Stone, an educator, counsellor, and Aware Parenting Instructor, discusses the role of compassion, empathy, and mindfulness in raising children in her TED Talk. She underscores the importance of these elements not just in parenting but also in shaping our education system.

Stone highlights the idea of creating wellness in families through connection and communication, essentially bringing emotional intelligence to the forefront of child development and education.

By incorporating empathy and mindfulness in daily interactions with children, parents and educators can foster a sense of emotional awareness and understanding, thereby nurturing emotional intelligence​​.

Additionally, the power of presence can have a transformative impact on the way children perceive and respond to their environment. By modelling mindful behaviour, adults can help children learn to approach situations with consideration and attentiveness.

This mindful approach can enable children to engage more fully with their experiences, promoting a deeper understanding of their own emotional responses and those of others. It paves the way for more meaningful connections, fostering a sense of empathy and compassion that is integral to emotional intelligence.

In conclusion, fostering emotional intelligence in children is a multifaceted endeavour that requires a combination of teaching explicit skills, modelling emotionally intelligent behaviours, and providing a supportive, empathetic environment where children feel safe to express their emotions. The power of presence is a vital component of this process, creating a nurturing atmosphere that promotes emotional literacy and paves the way for healthy emotional development.

Strategies for Fostering Emotional Intelligence

  • Embed Social and Emotional Learning into Lesson Plans: Integrating these lessons into daily teaching aids in the holistic development of children's emotional intelligence. For example, discussing emotional responses or social challenges during a history or science lesson can offer practical, real-world contexts for emotional learning​.

  • Engage Students in Problem-Solving: Encouraging children to participate in resolving issues helps them learn cooperation and enhances their understanding of interpersonal relationships. This could include group projects or discussions on potential solutions to common problems, promoting collaborative thinking and empathy​​.

  • Instil Perseverance: Teaching children the value of effort and persistence can help them develop self-motivation, an integral part of emotional intelligence. By praising effort rather than solely focusing on outcomes, children learn to appreciate the process of learning and overcome challenges with resilience​.

  • Model Respect: Displaying respect towards others is an effective way to teach children to value differences and disagreements, preventing bullying and promoting a positive learning environment. Respectful behaviour can be demonstrated through polite language, acknowledging others' viewpoints, and appreciating cultural and language backgrounds​​.

  • Incorporate Character Education: Teaching children about honesty, responsibility, and good values enhances their ethical awareness and promotes emotionally intelligent behaviour. Character education can be woven into diverse learning activities, allowing children to explore and practice these values in a supportive environment​.

  • Encourage Students to Share Opinions: When children are encouraged to voice their thoughts, it fosters a sense of competency and a desire to learn. This also strengthens their communication skills, boosts their confidence, and promotes mutual respect among peers​.

  • Impart Resiliency: Resilient children tend to be more academically successful and can bounce back from adversity more quickly, making it a key skill to teach when fostering emotional intelligence. Building resiliency can involve teaching children coping strategies, promoting self-belief, and nurturing a growth mindset​.

  • Prioritize Caring Behaviour: Encouraging empathy by challenging students to put themselves in another person’s shoes helps them develop positive relationships, a cornerstone of social and emotional learning. It can be achieved through activities like role-playing, discussing perspectives in literature, or exploring real-world scenarios that require empathy​​.

boy sitting on autumn leaves holding a heart shaped leaf
Help children grow into emotionally aware empathetic and successful individuals

By implementing these strategies and maintaining a strong, compassionate presence in a child's life, we can foster emotional intelligence in the next generation, helping them grow into emotionally aware, empathetic, and successful individuals.


Verywell Family. (n.d.). How to Teach Emotional Intelligence to Kids.

Stone, L. (n.d.). How To Raise Emotionally Intelligent Children. TEDxDocklands.

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