Professional Development

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October Is Emotional Intelligence Month

Monday, 25 October 2021 00:00

10 Strategies for Cultivating Emotional Intelligence

Out-of-School Time (OST) professionals must understand and develop their emotional intelligence (EQ) to effectively teach social-emotional skills to young people.

What is EQ and why is it so critical for OST professionals?

EQ is the capability of individuals to recognize their emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use this information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one's goals.

According to Quiroga Hopkins—who often cites Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence—"Many of us understand the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL) and supporting young people in developing their emotional intelligence. Because social and emotional skills are both taught and caught, we must continue to build our emotional intelligence as adults who work with kids.

Five Elements of Emotional Intelligence

What are they and what do they mean in terms of the work done in OST?

  1. Self-Awareness: Recognizing and labeling one's feelings and accurately assessing one's strengths and limitations.
  2. Self-Management: Regulating emotions, delaying gratifications, managing stress, motivating oneself, setting and working toward achieving goals.
  3. Social Awareness: Showing empathy, taking others' perspectives, and recognizing and mobilizing diverse and available supports.
  4. Motivation: Personal drive to improve and achieve, commitment to goals, initiative, or readiness to act on opportunities, optimism, and resilience.
  5. Relationship Skills: Clear communication, accurate listening, cooperation, nonviolent and constructive conflict resolution, and knowing when and how to be a good team player and leader.

Before you can develop these skills in others you have to develop yourself.

"Things have shifted in our field and we're focusing more on social-emotional development for young people. But, we could be paying more attention to development of EQ in adults," says Quiroga Hopkins. Research shows that EQ is the strongest predictor of work performance, accounting for 58% success in all fields. "It's not as common to see top performers in the workplace who are not also high in emotional intelligence."

OST professionals must be more intentional about cultivating their EQ. These ten strategies can help:

  1. Talk about your feelings.
  2. Be present.
  3. Learn your triggers.
  4. Be aware of nonverbal communication.
  5. Practice empathy.
  6. Meditate.
  7. Learn to observe your thoughts and emotions.
  8. Work on your listening skills.
  9. Heal past traumas and hurts.
  10. Create time for self-reflection.

To jump into action, take an EQ assessment ( and identify your growth areas.

For more information in audio-visual format, visit SEL for Kids Starts with the Adults.