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Teaching Emotional Intelligence

Written on . Posted in Autism, Emotional Intelligence, Sensory Diet, Sensory Room, Sensory Tips

I saw a post the other day on Facebook that said, "Instead of teaching kids to not stare, teach them to say hello." It’s all the rave these days, emotional intelligence or EQ (emotional quotient).

Understanding EQ

What is emotional intelligence (EQ)? It's is the ability to connect with other people successfully. By understanding our own feelings we can understand others. It's the ability to understand emotion, recognize feelings, feel empathy, and lend a hand. It also means the ability to regulate your own emotions and choose them appropriately. It can include any of these five components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, or social skills. Whereas, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was the main law for K–12 general education in the United States from 2002–2015 (holding schools accountable for how kids learned and achieved), a shift is occurring in schools that incorporates a focus on “no feelings left behind,” or EQ. We are learning and understanding that our minds are complex, and the psychological, environmental, and educational impact on a young mind can have a dramatic effect on well-being as an adult.

From Classroom To Community

We spend a large portion of our lives in school settings; however, the benefit of learning and raising an individual’s EQ is that they can take this understanding out into communities both local and worldwide. EQ, like technology, and combined with technology, can impact others and touch the lives of many. Take a multisensory room for example, where technology combined with a compassion for those with special needs means millions can benefit from these hands-on, feel-good environments, leading to happier, more functional, and more productive individuals.

Learn to Recognize Facial Expression

One important aspect of emotional intelligence is learning to understand and recognize facial expressions. This can be extremely challenging for children with autism, or those with neurological challenges and sensory disorders. But with practice, like piano lessons or learning a new language, facial expressions can be learned. The benefit is that we understand and can read one another’s expressions and respond effectively. This can help us when it comes to serving others or taking care of ourselves.

Encourage Group Work

To fully understand EQ it's important to realize that we don’t live in a vacuum, but that humanity is part of the lesson here on this earth, whether we are a receiver or giver. We like to compare this to our IRiS "talkers and listeners" which are fundamental to group work and learning to talk and or listen.

Self-Care is Foundational

At the heart of helping and understanding others is the ability to understand one’s self, one’s own needs, and to take care of ourselves. Self-care is foundational to caring for others. This means we have to understand and tend to our own sensory needs and sensory diets so we are at our best when we go to school, work, or home. Do you need calm time? Is your engine in a danger zone? Do you need a break? Time to decompress, regroup, and refocus? Do you need recess and movement? This is an ageless priority that, when met, enables us to work and play better with others and allows us to start teaching emotional intelligence to others as well.

Growing up with EQ

It sounds simple enough, but learning and living with high emotional intelligence takes work, planning, and practice. Mistakes are bound to happen, feelings hurt, and even injuries may occur. But, EQ is paramount to our civilizations and needs to be managed throughout our days. Keep the following in mind and watch your EQ soar and your community thrive:
  • What are your own sensory and motor needs? Plan time for them throughout each day.
  • How do you react when you are frustrated, mad, or angry? How does it affect others? Can you manage it better?
  • How can you bring EQ into your classroom? Into your lesson plans? Into your home? Office?
  • How about an EQ brainstorming session with your co-workers or family members to help your EQ culture thrive?