Emotional Literacy


Emotional Intelligence, sometimes abbreviated to ‘EQ’, is widely recognised as important for human flourishing. Some psychologists would argue that it’s the most important of the intelligences because it influences and regulates our ability to develop and exercise all the others.

Emotional Intelligence is tremendously significant to our individual motivation and well-being as well as for our human relationships. It includes the ability to identify and appropriately express emotions, the ability to manage and self-regulate emotions, and the ability to empathise with others’ emotional state.

While people will be gifted to different degrees with Emotional Intelligence (EQ), like all intelligences, we can only experience the maximum potential benefits if we train that intelligence and learn the necessary skills. This is what Emotional Literacy is all about – developing the skills that allow our natural Emotional Intelligence to flourish and enrich our lives. It’s a key skill in developing healthy relationships and experiencing life as a gift in all its wonder and challenges.

Emotional Literacy brings the following benefits:

  • promotes self-awareness and positive self-esteem (‘I know and understand myself and my needs and I am comfortable with who I am’)
  • fosters self-control (‘I choose how I will respond to strong emotions’)
  • develops resilience and optimism – important character traits known to be influential for healthy, well-adjusted individuals (‘I can see the positive side in every situation, good and bad alike’)
  • facilitates healthy communication with others and the appropriate expression of desires and needs (‘I can express myself clearly and respectfully’)
  • promotes empathetic understanding towards others which helps prevent bullying and other destructive behaviours (‘I can understand how others are feeling’).

Emotional Literacy Ritual: My Day

‘My Day’ is a daily reflection tool inspired by the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius. By reflecting on the best and worst of the day, children learn to assimilate their experiences into their developing understanding of themselves and the world in which they live.

This simple practice is a window into your child’s emotional life. When children start school, a large part of their world is out of a parent’s sight and reach. Things happen at school, both wonderful and upsetting. Yet by the time a child gets home, the moment has passed.

‘My Day’ helps parents keep in touch with the high and low points of their child’s daily life and so promote the development of their child’s Emotional Literacy. To maximise the impact of My Day, make this a family ‘night prayer’ ritual – give thanks to God for both the good and bad in life and ask the Holy Spirit for help where needed.

  1. Ask your child/ren about their day:
    a. What was the best thing that happened to you today?
    b. What was the worst thing that happened to you today?
  2. Give thanks to God for both the good and the bad in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit for help.
  3. Say a Joey Rosary (Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be).

Resilience is a Discipline

St Paul said in his letter to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. (1 Thes: 5:16-18). In other words: be grateful for both the pleasant AND challenging things in our life.

Learning how to identify the good within the things that cause us pain or discomfort is essential for spiritual growth and emotional resilience. One of the most practical places to start is with a daily reflection like My Day. It’s simple to do, but has profound impact on our children’s development and our relationship with them.

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Francine Pirola

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