A little bit of EQ goes a long way
The greatest indicator for success is not our intellectual ability but our emotional intelligence (EQ). Research shows us that adults who have good relationship skills, who can demonstrate self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and responsible decision-making, are likely to report the best life outcomes both personally and professionally.
Despite this, teaching children verbal and numerical skills remains the primary focus of our education system. Of course this is important but it is only one piece in the jigsaw puzzle of life that needs to be developed, taught and modelled to kids.
I have spent 20 years working with children from 3 to 18, supporting their mental health. Throughout this remarkable journey from drama workshops to private therapy practice, I have seen time and again how the lack of EQ (even in the most academically gifted children) is the single most consistent marker of psychological distress.
No matter a child’s background, we all encounter grief, failure, anger, anxiety and injustice. The skills that we have to manage these experiences are what will determine our ability to survive them. We are spending so much time and energy trying to remove obstacles from our children’s paths, to distract them from difficult feelings and sort out their problems that we are raising children who simply cannot cope with life and feel overwhelmed by anxiety.
The solution to this is so simple. Teach children how to recognise, understand, articulate and regulate their emotions from the earliest age. Encourage them to make mistakes and resolve problems using their own resources. Show them how to plan for difficult times as well as enjoy the present moment and model to them the values and ideals to which we as a society aspire.
Developing emotional intelligence is a lifetimes’ work but it is never too late to start. This website will, I hope, be a useful resource to parents, teachers and children who have an interest in nurturing mental wellness. Having good mental health is not about being happy all the time but about believing that when things feel bad, there is the possibility of change. It is also about finding your own strengths and resources, whatever they may be, and reinforcing them to engender strength and resilience.
It is easy to feel frightened by the ‘crisis of adolescent mental health’ that floods our social media and news feeds. Having worked on the front line of children’s psychological distress, I too have had moments of despair. But this is our challenge as grown-ups with the power to effect real change and is also the beginning of an EQ journey for us all. Let’s feel the sadness and the fear and, instead of letting it crush us or trying to snowplough the problems away, let us plan for the future by giving children the tools that they need to manage the roller coaster of adolescence and the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’.
A little bit of EQ goes a long way.
A little bit of EQ goes a long way
Emotional intelligence is the foundation of mental wellbeing. By teaching children to recognise, understand and manage their feelings, we can give them the best possible opportunity to maintain good mental health, particularly when faced with adversity. Supporting children's mental wellbeing requires a systemic approach that sees each child in the context of their own social, familial, educational and individual worlds. At EQ/Prep we use creative therapeutic tools to help bring out the best in every child. We educate teachers to work therapeutically in the classroom and invite parents to establish tools at home to promote healthy, resilient young minds.
We run creative, drama-based PSHE sessions in the classroom to explore ideas of friendship, self-esteem, resilience, empathy, anxiety and mindfulness.
We have developed a comprehensive Peer Mentor training programme, which teaches Year 6 students to manage conflict, ask open-ended questions, respect difference and find compromise.
Pupils are encouraged to make a lunch time appointment with EQ/Prep whenever problems arise. They learn that it is ok to ask for help, that there is no stigma attached to needing help and that help is easily found. In addition, teachers report that time is saved managing playground problems.
Our staff INSET sessions are developed alongside schools to meet the needs of each system. Past sessions include:
How to talk to children about death and loss
Managing challenging parent interactions
Working therapeutically in the classroom
Using the Respect/Reflect/Resolve model to manage anxiety in the classroom
Therapeutic playground techniques for TAs and lunchtime staff
We also offer one-to-one and small-group staff supervision sessions for teachers to discuss personal or professional issues.
Working alongside parents is key to the successful implementation of any child mental wellbeing strategy.
As part of our EQ/Schools programme, we offer drop-in chat sessions for parents. Parents are encouraged to discuss concerns, however big or small, with a view to addressing problem areas as early as possible. We can help, advise and, where necessary, signpost.
In our experience, a few little changes can make the world of difference when it comes to the mental wellbeing of all family members.
Recent parent talks include:
Is screen time damaging developing brains?
Developing mental health and emotional intelligence in primary school-aged children
Talking to children about death and loss
Alongside our thriving in-school service, we also offer support to parents via Skype/Zoom.
What do you do if you are worried about your child's mental health?
How do you find the right person to support your family therapeutically?
How can you find techniques to help you manage anxiety at home?
What if you could make just a few small changes, whilst your children are still young, that could make a huge difference to their future mental health? With the help of our experienced therapists, you can find a way out of the stuck places, support your children in times of particular need and learn techniques to ensure their (and your) mental wellbeing is protected.
No problem is too big or too small.