Emotional intelligence has gained popularity with psychologists over the last 20 years and is now considered alongside intelligence quotient (IQ) as a form of aptitude.
The four characteristics associated with emotional intelligence are: recognising emotions, using emotions efficiently, distinguishing emotional information, and managing emotions.
All four aspects start developing at around six years old.
Studies have shown that children with high emotional intelligence have better academic abilities and social skills and fewer behavioural problems.
Now, Yan Huang – a PhD student at Loughborough’s Design school – aims to create resources for parents and teachers to allow them to understand and improve young people’s emotional intelligence.
She said: “Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise emotions, efficiently use emotions, distinguish different emotional information, and manage emotions for the purpose of psychological and emotional development.
“Children’s academic abilities and social interactions could be supercharged when they develop well-honed emotional intelligence.
“Parents can help by spending more time interacting with children in ways that address coping with emotions. For example, telling stories with different emotional scenarios.”
The project aims to design a toy that can enhance the development of emotional intelligence in children through a user-centred participatory design process.
As a first step, researchers are analysing what parents and teachers think about emotional intelligence, how it develops, and how it can be fostered during play.
The goal is to develop theories, applications, heuristics and toolkits to help children, parents, and educators and to develop better educational technology.