Cultivating Emotional Intelligence: Techniques for Enhancing Your Child’s Social and Emotional Well-being


Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships. As demonstrated by historical figure Marcus Aurelius, cultivating emotional intelligence can play a significant role in successful leadership and personal growth. This article explores techniques for enhancing your child’s social and emotional well-being, drawing inspiration from Marcus Aurelius and modern educational practices.

Marcus Aurelius and Emotional Intelligence

Marcus Aurelius was a successful leader in Rome during a time of turmoil, and his ability to cultivate emotional intelligence played a role in his success. He understood the value of self-awareness, motivation, emotional self-regulation, and social awareness in terms of practical ethics. Marcus showed emotional intelligence in his handling of a rebellion, where he pardoned co-conspirators and instituted a peace tour instead of violently crushing his enemies. He also demonstrated emotional intelligence in his decision to rule alongside his adoptive brother, recognizing the emotions of others and his own aptitudes. One method Marcus used to cultivate his emotional intelligence was journaling.

Emotional Awareness and “Feeling Charts”

To help children regulate their emotions, parents and educators can introduce emotional awareness techniques such as “Feeling Charts.” These charts can assist children in identifying and understanding their emotions, promoting self-awareness and emotional self-regulation. However, it is essential to strike a balance between emotional awareness and raising self-absorbed children. A philosophy of self-protectiveness can become harmful if it turns into a value system that promotes selfishness over selflessness.

Social and Emotional Learning Programs in Schools

Ellis Early Learning center in Boston has adopted a formal social and emotional learning program (SEL) for the first time, which includes online training for teachers and classroom-based resources with visits from social-emotional coaches. The school is part of a small but growing wave of early learning programs seeking to build or expand their social-emotional component in the wake of a pandemic that has led to more challenging student behavior and unprecedented turnover among child care workers. More than 250 preschool classrooms in Florida and 150 Head Start classrooms in the northeast have adopted a new SEL curriculum aimed specifically at addressing the pandemic’s toll on young children.

The Importance of SEL in the Wake of the Pandemic

Research and educator surveys show that young children have been severely impacted by pandemic-related stress and trauma, such as the death of loved ones and food and housing security, as well as limited opportunities for social interaction outside of the home. Parents and educators report more young children are hyperactive, fearful, aggressive, and have trouble interacting with peers. The need for SEL is even more important now due to the pandemic. However, some opponents of SEL have accused it of promoting critical race theory and other controversial ideas. Despite these concerns, cultivating emotional intelligence in children remains a crucial aspect of their social and emotional well-being.