Are emotional skills acquired over time or we are born with them? Researchers now agree that emotional intelligence is not something that we are born with, but is developed through the experiences acquired during childhood and adolescence–and it is a crucial part of becoming a successful adult.

Children differ from one another because of the skills they possess, but regardless of this, emotional education must be taught in all areas of life (family, school, friendships, etc.). Elements that favor emotional skills, such as creativity, optimism, perseverance and self-control, empathy, assertiveness, etc., should be included in traditional education. So far education has dealt with cognitive aspects in children, but it is necessary to develop the components of emotional intelligence so that children grow up with the capabilities they need to face present society.

Although emotions should be developed with interactions from teachers and peers, parents are the main and most important personal trainers of this area. By following the appropriate guidelines, the time spent will give them great satisfaction because they will make their children happier emotionally and, cognitively, more effective as students, with greater concentration and with fewer learning issues. In the future, emotional intelligence will be an important ingredient in children’s personal and professional success, as well as a protector of their physical and psychological health. Some specialists even say that it can lead to lower levels of stress hormones.

Emotional development directly influences the intellectual development of the child, so that if there is lack of affection or emotional blockage during childhood, it can have negative effects on aspects of intellectual development. A child’s intellect may be limited in aspects such as memory, difficulties in perception and attention, and decreased fluidity of mental associations. On the other hand, the proper development of emotional intelligence produces an increase in motivation, curiosity, and the desire to learn.

In the first years of a child’s life, emotional skills that need to be encouraged by the parents are self-awareness, impulsive behavior control, motivation, empathy, and social skills like cooperation and respect. For proper emotional development, the child must be aware of his or her own feelings and be able to: verbalize emotions to others, possess empathy with others, exchange mutual feelings, accept oneself, and possess security and self-esteem.

Emotional intelligence is especially important because emotions influence most of the decisions we make; however, we have to keep in mind how emotions affect our cognitive reasoning. Using reasoning and logical thinking in regards to emotions helps keep us out of unnecessary arguments, drama, and other overly-emotional situations. Parents and, where appropriate, teachers, should understand the role they play in the emotional development of children, and make it as much of a priority as encouraging a high IQ.

It’s our duty to listen to our children and protect them, but not in excess; to help them, but not do things for them; to accompany them, but not force them to follow us; to teach them about dangers, but not frighten them; to integrate them socially, but not push them to be social; to love them and show affection, but not idolize them. Most of all, we can teach through example–express your own emotional intelligence in front of your children and they will listen and repeat in their own lives.