What is Emotional Intelligence?
Daniel Goleman defines emotional intelligence as an individual’s skills to control impulses, to self-motivate, to have empathy for others, and to create positive, social interpersonal relationships. Children can learn and use these types of skills in an emotional intelligence classroom to get along better with their peers, to have more self-confidence, and to even succeed with their daily work.
Children who participate in emotional intelligence activities and learn empathy and conflict resolution at a young age, can practice these skills every day just like math or reading, to grow up and become a well-adjusted adult. Providing emotional intelligence activities will help your students practice these skills.
One large component of an emotional intelligence classroom is learning to handle conflicts in a positive way. Teaching emotional intelligence to students means teaching them conflict resolution skills. They will learn from conflicts they have with their peers, learn to control their temper, and to handle conflicts in a timely manner through emotional intelligence activities such as role playing and classroom meetings.
Providing role playing opportunities about common playground or lunchroom problems is a good place to start with emotional intelligence. Children do not just know how to positively resolve conflict from birth. They have to be taught conflict resolution and practice these skills with their peers.
Controlling Impulses and Learning about Empathy
The best way to teach conflict resolution skills is to first make-up a pretend, but realistic, conflict in the classroom and practice the skills through emotional intelligence activities. Then when actual conflicts arise among your students, they will already know about controlling their impulses and having empathy for the other person. The hardest time to teach conflict resolution is when emotions are high after a conflict.
- Make up a situation in your classroom that could actually happen such as two students arguing over where they are going to stand in line when they line up. Both want to be the line leader.
- Ask the class what impulse these two students may have when they both want to be line leader. (Two possible answers are: race to the front of the line or push each other out of the way).
- Discuss with the class the possible reasons why each person might want to be the line leader. Talk to the students about empathy–understanding why the other person also wants to be a line leader.
- Brainstorm positive ways to solve this conflict, such as: one child is the leader on Monday, the other child is the leader on Tuesday; or one can be the leader going to recess, and the other can be the leader on the way back.
- Implement the conflict resolution plan once the brainstorming is over. Students must choose the solution they think works the best to solve their problem.
With ideas and themes from Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence book, teachers can show students how to resolve conflicts in a positive way and improve their peer relationships. Taking time for emotional intelligence activities will benefit everyone and turn your room into an emotional intelligence classroom.