Last week, my eight year-old "broke up" with his best friend over a game of Four Square. As it turns out, my son is not particularly coordinated (sorry, kiddo, you can thank your mom for that), and instead of feeling comfortable with his shortcomings, he got very defensive. That day, a sobbing third-grader met me on the front steps of school, and we had a long talk about emotional regulation and more productive ways to work through self-doubt.
It's no secret that emotional Intelligence is a key predictor of highly successful people. It stands to reason that children who are emotionally balanced, with an ability to listen, empathize, and creatively solve problems, will have an edge as they grow into adolescents and adults but it can be difficult, as parents, to understand how to navigate critical lessons that will help them grow into emotionally intelligent individuals.
Which is why, in the aftermath of our discussion, I discovered that two Harvard-educated moms, Sofia Dickens and Erica Buxton, had built a platform to facilitate social and emotional maturity. So, I reached out to Dickens and Buxton to get the scoop.
Dickens says her mission has always been to make learning social and emotional skills fun and accessible, which led her to EQtainment - the California-based education technology startup that recently raised $5 million to continue with the development of its educational products.
The company recently launched Q Wunder, one of the first apps to take 40 years of social and emotional studies and data and translate it to learning-based entertainment. The app features learning games and follows a monkey that faces ethical and life skills questions that the child has to help to answer.
What distinguishes Q Wunder from the dozens of creative, educational and well-designed children's apps released every month? Some are purely about fun; others focus on bringing an interactive twist to storytelling, and others are more weighted towards the building blocks of math and language-learning. However, only a few focus on social and emotional intelligence.
Q Wunder takes interactive learning it to a whole new level, bringing in an A-squad of celebrities that star in a full-series show exclusive to the app. From Michael Strahan to Nick Lachey, the star-studded show may just draw in parents to improve their EQ as well. Children are rewarded with more content as they progress through the app, while simultaneously improving their emotional intelligence.
“Parents lack the time and tools to share life’s most critical skills with their kids, such as focus, problem-solving, impulse control and social scenarios. Q Wunder is the first-ever holistic solution to boosting social and emotional skills, making learning both fun and interactive,” explains Dickens.
In addition to using their education games and interactive Q Wunder app, Dickens and Buxton offer the following tips to help develop and foster your child’s emotional intelligence:
To say patience is a virtue is quite an understatement. It’s more a state of being that occurs between experience and reaction. Helping your child cultivate a practice of patience, they will be able to let go of things outside of their control and live with less stress, anxiety, and frustration.
Try creating fun distraction mechanisms while waiting. Keep the games simple and fun, like counting how many people are in line or making up a song about the many cars that are also sitting in traffic.
Push Them Out of Their Comfort Zone
Teaching your child to take small calculated risks helps them build confidence and be more open to trying new things. Small nudges towards this can be as simple as encouraging your children to partake in fun exercises and drills, such as crisscross jumping jacks, balancing on one leg, and doing the crab walk.
Encourage Your Child to Connect
Kids who are socially aware are closer to their family and friends because they’ve learned to build trust, kindness, sensitivity, and openness.
Create a Morning Routine
If you were to look at any successful person, you would see that they spend each day doing the things that help them accomplish their biggest goals. It's not to say they’re perfect—because no one is—but despite the negative things that might be going on in their life, they continue to make moves that have a positive impact. And it starts with their daily habits.
It’s not always easy, but establishing a morning routine can go a long way. Again, look for ways to make it fun, such as by creating a mnemonic to help your kid remember their routine. Here’s an example:
*My Buddy Goes Parachuting*
M - Make bed
B - Brush teeth and hair
G - Get dressed
P - Pack backpack.
With the right tools and practices in hand, building emotional intelligence now will not only help your child become professionally successful but also develop strong, connected relationships in their personal life. Through their new Q Wunder app, Dickens and Buxton of EQtainment look to aid parents in their efforts to provide their children with the best chance at a thriving, balanced, and happy future - or simply a happier game of Four Square.