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E.I. versus I.Q.

How to get along with your fellow humans can be the hardest thing to teach.

How to get along with your fellow humans can be the hardest thing to teach.

When I was a teacher at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center, our school spent two years studying Social Emotional Learning (SEL).  Parents and teachers read, reread, and discussed Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence; Why it can matter more than I.Q.”  We also brought in experts to train us how to teach SEL better.

Am I an expert at E.I. versus I.Q.?  No way!  But I do think about it a lot.

What I’ve learned as a parent is that it’s really hard to teach kids how to handle somebody “pushing your buttons”.  Some people naturally handle this better than others, I think.  Other’s need help learning effective strategies for dealing with interpersonal stress.

Kindness, one of the most important things to teach.

Kindness, one of the most important things to teach.

A book that has got me thinking about E.I. all over again with new meaning, is Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.  I’ve been reading it on my Kindle.

What Carnegie was describing seems to be SEL at its best.  (Click here for the summary on Wikipedia.)

Right now I’m thinking of ways to use Carnegie’s ideas in my own parenting.  I’d like for my children to do all that he suggests; begin in a friendly way, show genuine interest in other people, smile, see things from another person’s point of view, readily admit when they are wrong, and so much more.

That’s why we now have two mason jars on our kitchen table, and popcorn at the ready.

I'm going to catch my kids "being good".

I’m going to catch my kids “being good”.

This week, the SEL skill my family is focusing on is Kindness.  When I notice my kids being kind, I add some popcorn kernels to their jars.  When the jars are filled up, we are popping the corn and watching a movie together.

This popcorn trick is an old-standby a lot of teachers use in the classroom to encourage good behavior.  But I’m hoping it will work here at home too.

Stay tuned for more of our SEL journey this summer.  Each week we’ll be focusing on something new.

If you have any thoughts about Daniel Goleman or Dale Carnegie, please chime in.  I love discussion!


  1. […] popcorn experiment continues!  It went 110% awesome for the first two days, and then started a slow decline after […]

  2. […] family has been working really hard to encourage emotional intelligence, and this CD is the perfect compliment to what we’ve been talking […]

  3. […] anyone remember my popcorn experiment from earlier this year?  My goal was to catch my kids being good, and it worked.  But after a […]

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