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What is Emotional Intelligence? - Key Facts You Should Know

Written by: Ikedah Alston, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Have you ever been in an interaction with someone who was irrationally upset, like over something seemingly small like someone else’s appearance or that had to wait a few extra minutes in line because the cashier needed help from a manager? Or, have you ever seen a kid, maybe around 12 years old, get so angry that she can’t calm down and doesn’t realize that she’s starting to ball her fist and cry uncontrollably?

This type of behavior stems from emotional dysregulation, or when a person’s reaction is well outside the ‘accepted’ range of emotional response. What’s worse, when a dysregulated kid does not have the proper training, they turn into a dysregulated adult. And that can look like someone who can’t take ‘no’ for an answer, blaming others for their mistakes or someone who can’t take criticism very well.

That’s where emotional intelligence training comes in. It is an essential set of life skills that when taught, a person can become aware of their own emotions and those of others as well.

So, what is emotional intelligence? It is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and identify the emotions of others.


In 1990, two American university professors, were researching to develop ways to scientifically measure the difference between a person’s abilities in and around their emotions. In terms of well-known research in emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman is probably one of the most widely recognized names. Goleman was a New York writer and consultant who began writing articles for Popular Psychology in the early 90s and then later wrote for the New York Times.

Emotional intelligence has 5 pillars:

  1. Self-awareness or awareness of what you are feeling from moment to moment and understand the impact this has on others.

  2. Self-regulation or attempting to control or redirect your emotions and learning to anticipate the consequences before acting on impulse.

  3. Motivation or utilizing emotional factors to overcome and persevere.

  4. Empathy or learning how to tune in to and sense the emotions of others.

  5. Social skills or learning how to manage relationships with others effectively.

The program that I teach at KIMA Kids Life Coach goes into detail on how our kids can learn what each of these topics mean, how they can own it, and then how to practice it on a daily basis. I call it the L.O.L. Model …or LEARN IT, OWN IT, LIVE IT! I use age-appropriate and engaging activities so that everything is easily manageable and understandable for each child.

Even though my particular program is geared specifically towards kids, it’s great to know that even adults can learn emotional intelligence as well. I believe you’re never too old to learn these essential life skills, and the fact is that there are adults that haven’t formally learned these skills, and I was one of them, so I know first-hand what the outcome could be.

Now, I’m going to break down each of the 5 pillars.


  • The way you define something becomes your understanding of it.

  • Working to improve your vocabulary of emotions – for example, if you experience fear, try to describe exactly how it feels for you. Do you feel anxious, panicked, nervous or just worried? This is also called labeling your emotions.

  • Accept yourself exactly as you are.

  • Be assertive. Practice saying no in a way that is not offensive or disrespectful.

  • Resist impulses. Try delaying or resisting temptation and act accordingly to control emotions.

  • Be flexible. Practice changing your emotions from one state to another. For example, try smiling when delivering disappointing news. (FOR KIDS -when your child is having fun at the playing and has to leave and going from excited to calming down).


  • Practice and learn the ability to regulate emotions. Like doing something at the moment to stop the negative emotion or change it.

  • That regulatory capacity helps build emotional intelligence. For example, when you get angry, try rethinking about the situation or looking at it differently.


  • To stay motivated, it’s important to remain focused on strong goals. This gives a sense of self-confidence and self-worth.

  • Try to maintain a positive attitude, despite other’s negative emotions. Stay in a motivating environment as much as possible.

  • Self-motivation is a complex subject. It is linked to each person’s level of initiative when it comes to setting goals. When you truly believe you have the skills and abilities necessary to achieve your goals, you expect and get success.


  • Recognize the emotions in others and the fact that they are driven by their emotions.

  • Usually the way people feel is the way they will think, then in turn they will’s like a triangle that is never-ending. This is called the Think-Act-Feel, or TFA, chart.

  • Form boundaries around your emotions. Learn to recognize your own emotions as separate from other’s emotions.

  • Recognize that other people’s emotions do not have to be your emotions.

  • You have the option to not react to every emotion sent your way.

So how does it look when people have low or high emotional intelligence?

In conclusion, emotional intelligence helps you to be smart about your emotions. It’s not only about being nice all the time or always being the person with a smile on their face ALL THE TIME. It’s really more about being honest and authentic.

The idea of emotional intelligence helps you to become more aware of your feelings and how your feelings, and the way you respond to them, impact others. In the end, increasing your emotional intelligence can help you to read others’ emotions more accurately and respond in a more appropriate way.

My main program at KIMA Kids Life Coach is for kids ages 8-14. I help them build emotional intelligence so that they can be more self-aware and confident. When working with me, your child will learn powerful life skills, such as: mastering positive self-talk, learning how their emotions work, and the power of dreams and setting goals to achieve them. If you are ready to get started on this emotional journey with me, email me. I’ll be able to get more clarity on your situation to find out I can best assist you.

For more details, follow me on Facebook, Instagram or visit my website. Be sure to join my private Facebook Community for valuable information on parenting tips and emotional intelligence.


Ikedah Alston, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

The core philosophy of what I do is to “be who you needed when you were younger”. As a kid, I struggled with negative self image, emotional outbursts and lack of self awareness which followed me through adulthood. Over the past 11 years I have worked with children directly through volunteering in my community as a mentor, scout troop leader and as a mom, so I have seen first hand the struggles that kids go through including not knowing how to handle their emotions. And having gone through it myself, I felt that there is a gap that needs to be filled. That is why I started KIMA Kids Life Coach. I want to give our youth, the future of our world, the essential life skills through emotional intelligence to begin their journey of self awareness, effective communication and better decision making. 



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