Inside Out: Bringing emotions to life
In his classic text Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ, Goleman’s central argument was that emotional intelligence is a vital ingredient for achieving success in life, far more important than intellect. For example, a longitudinal study cited by Goleman (1998) indicated that emotional intelligence was four times more important than IQ in determining positive outcomes for a group of professional scientists. So the research would suggest that emotional intelligence is a vital life skill, and one that we would arguably like children to develop.
More recently, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (http://ei.yale.edu/ruler/) has developed the RULER model to capture their take on the different components of EI:
Teaching children to develop greater emotional intelligence
R - Recognizing emotions in self and others. The film identifies the main characters in this respect, and helps us to understand what they look like in our own or other people’s behaviour.
We can ask children: When have you seen those feelings in other people? In yourself?
U - Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions. We get to see what triggers Riley's feelings, and the consequences of certain feelings taking control at particular times.
We can ask children: What triggers Riley’s feelings? What triggers your feelings of (e.g. fear, anger, joy)? What happened last time you felt…? What did you do? What happened then?
L - Labelling emotions accurately. The film gives us a vocabulary to label five key emotions (joy, sadness, fear, anger and disgust).
We can ask children: How are you/were you feeling? Are you/were you feeling (e.g. frightened, angry, sad)?
E - Expressing emotions appropriately. We can see how it benefits Riley to communicate her feelings effectively, and can encourage children to reflect on the value of this.
We can ask children: When we’re feeling [x], how can we express it? How does that help?
R - Regulating emotions effectively. We can then think about ways to manage the different 'characters' when they take control of the panel.
We can ask children: What helps when you feel x? What do others do when they feel x?
I’ve also used language from the film with my own children to model how feelings have impacted on my own behaviour – for example, “I regret how I handled that situation earlier, I let anger take charge of the control panel and I’m sorry for dealing with it in that way.”
Emotional intelligence is a vital life skill, and one that we can deliberately cultivate in children. Inside Out injects some life and fun into the topic, while the RULER model gives us a structure for exploring and developing the different components of EI.
References and acknowledgements
Goleman, D. (1998). Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.
Mayer, J. D. & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational Implications. New York: Basic Books.
Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. http://ei.yale.edu/ruler/ (retrieved 29 December 2015).
With thanks to Dr. Suzy Green of The Positivity Institute, Australia, whose blog introduced me to the RULER model – see http://www.thepositivityinstitute.com.au/home.