Emotional Intelligence: Why your teen needs EQ more than IQ to thrive.

You want your children to leave the nest one day, confident and self-sufficient.  You won’t always be able to protect them and walk them through every difficulty, nor should you. You want them to be able to financially support themselves, have good friends and relationships, to be healthy, and to handle what comes in healthy ways. How do you help them to be ready for a successful and satisfying life?

It helps to know a little about EQ, Emotional Intelligence.  It is defined as “a measure of a person’s adequacy in such areas as self-awareness, empathy and dealing sensitively with other people.”

With all the focus on grades and achievement, EQ gets lost in the IQ shuffle.  Psychologists agree that when it comes to success ingredients in life and career, IQ counts for 10-25%, while EQ is responsible for the rest (up to 90%)!

First, a little more information on EQ:

1.  Self-awareness – the ability to recognize emotions as you feel them is the number one element of EQ.  When you tune in to your true feelings, you can learn to understand them and manage them.

2.  Self-regulation – Emotions happen, but it’s up to you for how long and how intensely they stick around.

3.  Motivation – Accomplishing any goals requires a plan and a good attitude, all key to finding the motivation to complete the work.  This includes reframing negativity into more positive terms.

4.  Empathy – The ability to recognize how people feel, and acknowledge those feelings, is critical for healthy relationships, be they social, business or intimate.

5.  Social Skills – We all have instant access to information and technology, so there’s nothing unique there.  It’s the people with great interpersonal skills that will tip the scales to success.

Our focus must be on #1 and #2, self-awareness and self-regulation. (They are in the first two spots for a reason — you can’t have 3, 4 and 5 without them.)  Unfortunately, these are not areas of strength for teens.  They are busy figuring out how they fit into their new, expanding world. A teen’s (normal) all-about-me perspective does not include introspection and self-examination (self-awareness) and they are mostly reactive (lack of self-regulation).

This doesn’t come naturally.  But just because it doesn’t come naturally doesn’t mean they can’t learn it.  It’s up to you, us, parents, to teach them and walk them through it.

(More next week on what you can do to help your teen handle stress.


  1. Fern,
    You are awesome! EQ is at the heart of what I teach the girls and their families. You are so on target… as usual. :-)

    • Back at you, Elisa. We are going to change lives by helping parents master the skills and pass them on to their kids. Just imagine….

      • To quote, “We are going to change lives by helping parents master the skills and pass them on to their kids.” And this happens more easily than we think it can because humans have mirror neurons that (yes) mirror each other subconsciously. Hmm, the true meaning of the phrase, “It takes 2 to tango.” LOL
        Plus the plasticity of the brain is such that we can re-wire our neural pathways quicker than ever imagined…with the caveat being that one has to work consistently for the new neural path to become dominant….at least humans do!
        Incidentally, I first learned of the path of Mindfulness as a way to improve my Emotional Intelligence thru the observations of how my gentle natured Snakess live only in the present and always unknown (or mysterious) moment. However, unlike them, I will forever be a student in the mindful emotional practice of being in the moment! :-) ~~<


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