As parents, we often talk of child development as it pertains to intellectual growth. As discussed in past blog posts, there are certain things parents can do to help give their children the best possible opportunities for increased IQ and to further learning capabilities. But what about emotional growth?

Once your child is able to relax and focus, she is then in the best frame of mind to proceed with the other two areas of growth most critical to reaching his or her full potential: emotional and intellectual development.

Emotional and intellectual skills go hand-in-hand. Without healthy emotional maturity, your child cannot achieve anywhere near her full cognitive capacity. Emotional intelligence affects moral development as well. Emotionally mature children can make better use of their brains than immature children of the same age. It’s that simple.

Maturity enables a child to sit, concentrate, learn, and so much more. It is the foundation of self-motivation, self-confidence, and a sense of competence. All of those qualities are essential to making use of your child’s talents and knowledge in order to interact in a productive way with other people in the world.

The study of emotional development in infants and children is a relatively new science. It is only in the last few decades that educators have come to realize how important the emotions are to cognitive, moral, and all other areas of proficiency.

Howard Gardner was one of the first to point out that there are “multiple intelligences” beyond intellectual intelligence. Though it is intellectual intelligence, as measured by IQ, that western cultures pay the most attention to, Gardner identified seven intelligences.

The first five include:

  1. linguistic,
  2. logical-mathematical,
  3. spatial,
  4. musical, and
  5. bodily-kinesthetic.

The remaining two deal even more directly with emotional growth:

  • interpersonal, and
  • intrapersonal intelligences.

Since Gardner presented his work in the early 1980s, he has added additional forms of intelligence to his list.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman furthered this understanding of how interdependent our various forms of intelligence are with his book Emotional Intelligence (1995). Goleman writes: “One of psychology’s open secrets is the relative inability of grades, IQ, or SAT scores, despite their popular mystiques, to predict unerringly who will succeed in life….At best IQ contributes about 20 percent to the factors that determine life success, which leaves 80 percent to other forces.”

Goleman, along with the majority of educators, now believe that it is emotional intelligence that enables a child to make the most of his or her cognitive skills and knowledge. Goleman presented a summary of neuroscientific research to demonstrate that the prefrontal lobes of the brain, which control emotional impulses, are also where memory is established and learning takes place. He showed that if a child is emotionally immature, and, therefore, more likely to be emotionally volatile, the child’s frequent feelings of anger, upset and anxiety get in the way of his ability to learn and remember what he has learned.

Thus, guiding your child in how to develop emotionally and engage socially, in a calm and relaxed way, is important to the establishment of self-confidence and self-esteem. It is also key to helping your child feel motivated to make the best use of his or her talents and other forms of intelligence.

So how do you begin to help your child develop her emotional intelligence? We’ll cover that in my next blog post.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.