Fostering emotional intelligence in your teen.

Is a high IQ over rated when it comes to insuring success as an adult?  If IQ is fixed at birth, what control do parents have over promoting cognitive success in their children?


A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a presentation at Greenwich Ed and Prep on ‘Stress and the Student’, and how parents can help their children better manage stress and develop their emotional intelligence.  Tammy Moscrip Ph.D., who has her doctorate in neurobiology and psychology presented- so the evening was a wonderful intersection of how the brain, cognition and stress all work with one another in  teenagers.


Emotional Intelligence was coined in a 1995 book by Daniel Goleman on the premise that high IQ is a poor determinant of adult success and many individuals with high IQ are not realizing their potential by thinking, behaving and communicating in ways that hinder their chances to succeed.  Intelligence and IQ may be determined at birth, but Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is not static and can be nurtured.  The quality of experiences you have growing up actually develops your brain, so that your environment can impact your abilities. At puberty, physical and emotional development can create ‘windows’ or prime times for learning.  Most importantly, motivation and positive feelings help in learning, and conversely, stress and negative feelings hinder learning.


If we can teach our children to deal with stress and adversity effectively, they will be healthier, and will be better at coping and have greater resilience.  In turn, they will be more effective learners and have skills needed for future success and happiness.


Tammy strongly believes that parents should practice ‘Positive Psychology’.  Allow your children to embrace life’s challenges in a positive way.  Focus on the positive in your child instead of criticizing short comings.  Help your teen find their optimal level of stress, and realize too much stress can be detrimental to learning and effect memory.


In practical terms Tammy listed some items parents can do to foster emotional intelligence in their children.  These include:


  • Encourage appropriate communication
  • Encourage perspective taking
  • Avoid excessive negative attention/feedback
  • Avoid reinforcing passive aggressive behaviors
  • Provide appropriate discipline, structure and boundaries
  • Avoid power struggles
  • Find ways to compromise with your teen, but within established guidelines
  • Be a strong, positive role model
  • Talk, make time for one another.


Her final thought:  our families are often over scheduled and under connected.  Quality family meals promote adolescent mental, physical and psychological health. Eating dinner as a family is correlated in teens to higher self esteem, abstinence from alcohol, drugs, smoking and sex and, provides better health habits and nutrition.  It’s comforting to know you can help your children achieve success in life simply by having dinner together.


Jean Mann- School Choice International



2 Responses to Fostering emotional intelligence in your teen.

  1. Jeannie says:

    Wonderful ideas above!

    Last bullet point: ‘Talk, make time for one another,’ is so important.

    Many of us grew up in a world of absolute answers – right or wrong answers for math and other academic subjects, and right or wrong answers for behaviors and maturity levels of adolescents. A period of rebellion was ignored or completed in short order. The perception of the absence of gray areas, often simplified solutions for math and life choices.

    However our world, today, changes so very quickly.

    And there are a lot of gray situation and gray solutions, verses black and white solutions. One size no longer fits all.

    Today our children learn in school that there is more than one way to get to the answer. Younger children are encouraged to show their math calculations, demonstrate math answers with props – in other words: show your work. Students of all ages work in teams and brainstorm to creatively problem solve issues with innovative and unique solutions.

    Taking time to think, to synthesize, to reflect, to problem solve is no longer the back room activity for just researchers or scientists. Taking time to think, to ‘talk and make time for one another,’ is one of the best skills to develop and refine emotional maturity or emotional intelligence.

    Taking time to think and discuss what may be the cause and what is the effect must be front and center, to understand todays’ gray and complex and varied alternatives based on the increased awareness, diversity and variety of todays’ solutions.

    Our children and their classmates are bombarded with information at a incredibly fast pace, right at their fingers – from obtaining research to communicating with so many others instantly, electronically.

    Sitting down and talking, and learning to listen, and watching for non-verbal and facial queues, and letting voices be heard, and letting youngsters articulate questions, problems, possible solutions, discuss the pros and cons of scenarios, whether it’s academic or interpersonal, face-to-face, always slows down the fast-paced, often impulsive actions and answers, which characterize immaturity.

    Work, travel, and fitting in activites and appointments made dinner time vary from day to day and week to week for our family. We could not always eat dinner together. We had to make time to, ‘Talk, to make time for one another.’ Through this unplanned time, we began to examine the black and white and gray solutions.

    We began our family’s process of taking time for one another by setting up a weekly spreadsheet, and posting weekly schedules by individual, for all to see. Then we make sure to honor others’ schedules for sports practice, etc., AND just as importantly we all set time aside regularly beginning with a three-hour period of family time weekly. Often at a table, we started with board games, and light conversations flowed. We made sure everyone was comfortable in the same room or area. When we had specific topics, we let various family members take turns being the coach or moderator. Rather than everyone talking at once, or over each other, to avoid interruptions we passed around one a big spoon. Whoever held the spoon would speak uninterrupted, then passed the spoon around to others to determine whose turn it was to have the floor next and continue the conversation, also in an uninterrupted fashion. No blackberrys allowed and we let phones ring silently, unanswered for the family time, barring emergencies.

    It takes some time to get a rhythm for family conversation. The listening skills continue to develop, when we just, ‘talk, and make time for one another.’

  2. findingschools says:

    You both make some excellent points with tools for dealing with teens!

    Thanks, Karen

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