Emotional intelligence skills in children is as important as academic success, say experts at SCRF 2023

Emotional intelligence skills in children is as important as academic success, say experts at SCRF 2023

Panel discussion at Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2023 highlights that parents must be mindful of their own emotional intelligence and create a safe space for children to express themselves freely.

Sharjah, May 4, 2023

Emotional intelligence is a crucial skill to be cultivated by children equally as academic literacy and contributes in a big way to their wellbeing, a panel of experts said at the ongoing 14th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2023) on Wednesday.

The panel, which discussed the importance of developing emotional intelligence skills at a young age, consisted of Dr Maya AlHawary, the first Emirati PhD scholar to research emotional intelligence and its effect on leadership; the UAE-based Lebanese poet and writer Lorca Spiti; and Dr Louise Lambert, a Canadian researcher and expert on positive psychology. Defining emotional intelligence, Dr AlHawary said, “Emotional intelligence is the art and science of identifying the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of our own behaviour, of defining, developing and improving ourselves in a positive manner, as well as using it to improve our interactions with others”.

Illustrating how to use emotional intelligence to aid children with their emotional regulation, Spiti said, “Children are very smart these days and we must be cognisant of this. A child may not be academically bright, but may be able to thrive better among peers if they know how to control and express their emotions.”

“Emotional intelligence is one class of emotional regulation skills,” agreed Dr Lambert. “It’s the ability to understand and identify your emotions, and increase or decrease them vis-a-vis the positive or negative. It’s important to teach children these in order to help them function better and enable them to thrive in the school setting and later in the adult world and in workplaces.”

It’s also key to give youngsters a headstart in emotional intelligence and regulation, the panellists said. “The first eight years of a child’s life will define at least their next 30 years,” said Dr AlHawary. “Kids also learn from and mirror their parents, so it is vital for adults to learn to regulate themselves too”. Spiti agreed that “through experience, parents can ask children the right questions to get them to express themselves freely and properly.”

Schools, ultimately, should aim for emotional intelligence as one of their non-academic goals, the panellists agreed.

The 14th annual Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2023) is the region’s largest festival of its kind, dedicated to stimulate creativity in young minds and bring them closer to books. The event is running for 12 days until May 14 in Expo Centre Sharjah and carries the theme ‘Train your Brain’.


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