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Emotional IntelligenceExperts in the field of leadership believe that truly effective leaders possess a high level of emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ).  EQ focuses on self management and relationship management.

Emotional intelligence is all about social competence. Raising a child with autism has assisted with elevating my own emotional intelligence.  When we, as parents, teachers or clinicians, develop our own EQ, we can effectively help support our children in developing their EQ and enhance their social competence.

Five Components of Emotional Intelligence

Dr. Daniel Goleman, psychologist, brought EQ to the mainstream public in 1995. His research concluded that EQ is made up of five components:

  1. self-awareness
  2. self-regulation
  3. motivation
  4. empathy
  5. social skills

Those with a high sense of self-awareness understand how their emotions impact others and their overall performance.  Individuals who are self aware can regulate their emotions successfully.

How we regulate our emotions makes the difference for success with social competence. Goleman states, “without EQ, a person can have the best training, analytical mind and be good technically, but won’t make a great leader.” Or for the purpose of this article, may struggle with social relationships.

So, the question is, can Emotional Intelligence be learned?

How to Teach Emotional Intelligence

As I started training leaders in the corporate setting with regard to EQ, I realized that there was not much offered on “how” to raise EQ. There are countless articles and books that address “what” it is but no real tools offered to improve EQ.

I reflected on the tools used with Social Cognitive Deficit Disorders (SCDD).  Afterall, emotional intelligence is basically about social competence. Over the decades, these tools became ingrained in me as I taught my son, which in turn assisted to raised my own EQ.

Since the components that support EQ equate to social competence, then why couldn’t these tools used for SCDD work to raise EQ in children? I started to bring these techniques to my leadership development trainings.  Those who attend my classes are excited to head back to their jobs with tools for success.

Children too will be excited to head back to their social environment with social tools for success.  Three tools I used over the years to support my son with his social isms include:


Tools that have shown success include Michelle Garcia Winnersperspective-taking behavioral map to enhance empathy. This tool helps one visually and concretely map out behaviors by showing “how” it can make others feel and the consequences or outcomes associated with them. Taking it a step further with my audiences, I ask them to develop a plan in which to display empathy better the next time.

Social Skills

Another effective strategy to help develop appropriate social skills was created by Winners’ imaginary “friend files” in the brain. This technique helps store information about others to help initiate conversations.

This interactive exercise of getting to know someone by interviewing them, writing down three items about that person, and then storing the information in an imaginary file in the brain help to initiate future conversations. Also, one can keep a journal or card index file to help organize “friend” information.

Self Regulation

The Incredible 5-Point Scale developed by Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis can help regulate moods by recognizing and managing emotional responses. This tool focuses on the “how” by rating the mood on a scale according to intensity and matching it to solutions.

According to the authors, how we act, react, and interact in difficult situations depends on our ability to quickly and efficiently assess what is happening and consider the consequences of our actions. I have found this tool to be extremely effective.

By raising our own emotional intelligence, we can help our children raise their own EQ which will provide them with successful tools for building social competence.