For years, we’ve relied on IQs, or intellectual abilities, to predict future success. Yet, several studies indicate that emotional intelligence (EQ) trumps both IQ and experience in determining our ability to succeed in various aspects of life.

Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Emotional intelligence is our ability to identify and manage our emotions appropriately to communicate effectively, problem solve, reduce stress and empathize with others. Seventy-one percent of employers value emotional intelligence over IQ, according to a 2011 CareerBuilder survey. EQ is important for children, too. Research shows that students who exhibit self awareness, self regulation, internal motivation, empathy and social skills - key characteristics of high EQ - earn higher grades, stay in school and make healthier choices.

Fortunately, emotional intelligence isn’t a static trait. Use the following strategies to help boost students’ EQ in the classroom and after school:

● Provide books, games and apps that facilitate emotional development in children. Play Emotions Sort (inspired by Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out), check out this list of books about emotions and download apps like Avokiddo Emotions and Settle Your Glitter.

● Incorporate service learning to build empathy in students. Through community service projects, they can understand and share others’ experiences and emotions while developing a lifelong commitment to service.

● Use journaling to help students recognize, assess and understand their feelings. It’s a great way for students to clarify and think through their feelings in order to better understand themselves and regulate their emotions moving forward.

● Employ the S.T.A.R. Strategy to help students solve problems and manage emotions in the moment. The strategy encourages them to stop, think, act and review in order to resolve conflicts and take responsibility for their actions.

● Demonstrate empathy when addressing student misbehavior. Not only does it provide a great example for students, but research shows that it also helps to reduce discipline problems and cultivate positive relationships with students.

● Encourage healthy risk-taking and present students with age-appropriate challenges in order to foster a growth mindset. As a result, students will learn to effectively overcome obstacles and persevere when faced with adversity.

While good grades and high test scores may indicate intelligence, self-discipline or both, emotional intelligence is the greatest indicator of success. Incorporate these strategies to develop emotionallysound students in your classroom or program.