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Smart Tips to Build Your Middle Schooler’s Emotional Intelligence

eggs with faces drawn on them illustrating different emotions

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a group of skills your child can use to recognize and manage their emotions, find internal motivation, and manage relationships with family, friends, and teachers. People with high emotional intelligence can recognize how they’re feeling and use their feelings to make better decisions. 

It’s a skill that will help them now and into the future. According to the Harvard Business School, “Employees with high emotional intelligence are more likely to stay calm under pressure, resolve conflict effectively, and respond to co-workers with empathy.”

The best leaders have high emotional intelligence. Emotionally intelligent leaders better understand the people they manage. They also better understand themselves – their skills, mental health, motivation and relationships. 

Why Start Building Emotional Intelligence in Middle School

While it’s important that your middle schooler develops emotional intelligence for the future, it can also help them right now as they go through the tumultuous middle school years. 

Middle schoolers experience a lot of change, both internally and externally. Their bodies, minds, responsibilities and relationships are maturing, and sometimes that process is challenging. Helping your middle schooler build emotional intelligence lets them better understand themselves and their peers, leading to an easier middle school experience. 

Here are three ways you can start to help your middle schooler build emotional intelligence.


1) Help Them Label Emotions

Emotional intelligence starts with recognizing your own emotions. Get into the habit of asking your child what emotion they’re feeling. This might seem most useful when they’re irritable or moody, but it works best when you help them recognize all of their emotions - not just the ones considered “negative.”

The next time your middle schooler answers your question, “How was your day?” with a one-word answer, don’t get mad. Instead, encourage them to open up by asking what emotion they’re feeling. Model the behavior you want to see by sharing your own emotions with them.

2) Practice Empathy

Read books or watch movies together and talk about how the characters might be feeling. You can also do the same thing with real-life scenarios. For example, if your child comes home and says that their friend was quiet that day, ask how they think their friend is feeling. You can then discuss why they might feel that way. Are they stressed because of school? Is something else going on?

Building your child’s ability to be empathetic sets them up for success in life. Next time their friend is quiet, maybe they’ll ask what’s wrong instead of being frustrated that their friend wasn’t chatty. And, in their future career, they’ll be able to build real connections with their team and play to each individual’s strengths. 

3) Get Them a LeadYouth Membership 

There’s no one better to help your child build their emotional intelligence than our peer mentors. As students in high school or early college, our mentors understand what your middle schooler is going through. 

Soon we’ll be releasing a special full-length course on emotional intelligence built in partnership with child psychologist, Dr. Krishna Chari. Start your LeadYouth membership today and help your child become the confident communicator and emotionally intelligent leader you know that they can be.

Through our library of on-demand, online courses, and two group coaching sessions a month, your child will build EI while improving other essential life skills. Sign up for a LeadYouth Membership today.


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