The University of Hong Kong

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EQ Easy


Dr. Sylvia Liu & Mrs. Kit Chan

Faculty of Education

The University of Hong Kong


Emotional Development

Emotional development includes recognising and understanding one's feelings, accurately interpreting and understanding other people's emotions, showing empathy, expressing and handling emotions, having self-regulatory behaviours, and establishing interpersonal relationship.

Express one’s emotions positively

☆Understand own feelings

☆Understand others’ emotions


☆Adjust behaviors and establish interpersonal relationships

How to manage emotion?

How to enhance our EQ?


EQ Exercise

• Deep breathing 5-10 times

(1. continuously 2. breath slowly 3. the longer the better)

• Recall a scene of your child throwing a tantrum, or being ill-tempered in daily life

• Repeat deep breathing


Social and emotional skills are more critical to success. Research has shown that non-cognitive skills, such as motivation, sociability, attention, empathy, self-regulation, self-esteem, etc., which are considered less important traditionally, are actually more critical to a person’s success in life than almost anything else.

Factors of Success in the 21st century

Professor James Heckman (Heckman, 2018)


We all know that EQ is important….


A survey on Children’s Social Problems and Emotional Distress conduced by YWCA

• Around 30% of school children have emotional distress or social problems

• Around 30% of primary school students think that they have emotional problems or their social relationships are not good

• Most parents don’t know or notice that their children are facing these hardships.

• Social workers said that crying out "I want to die!" can be heard from children as young as P.1

• Parents are reminded the importance of early identification and intervention of children's emotional and social problems


Parent-child rapport helps

children’s emotional development 2017

“Hong Kong Primary School Students' Depression Survey" - Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service Social Service

• 17.6% of primary school students are depressed. Higher risk of depression for children who are alienated from their parents

• Parent-child emotional attachment and bonding can prevent depression in children

Source of information: (Chinese version only)


Early Identification and Intervention


A survey on Emotional Performance of School Children and Parents in Hong Kong - The Hong Kong Institute of Family Education

• Children are often being accused of having low EQ, parents are at a loss, and their emotions are disturbed

• 60% of parents are lenient in child rearing, filial piety no longer exists

• 60% of school children have screaming and aggressive behaviours

• Primary school students facing nearly triple the academic pressure of kindergarten students





Research in the foreign countries also shows that it’s not uncommon for young children to have

emotional problems

and an increasing trend is noticed…

• Rates of significant behavourial and emotional problems are as high as 6-15% in 3-12 years old children.

• The numbers even high as 35% for children from economically- disadvantaged families.

(Egger & Angold, 2006; Sawyer et al., 2000)


Emotional Control and Executive Function

• Emotional self-regulation is closely related to executive function

• Including the ability to follow instructions, take turns,

share and focus

• Identified as the most important social emotional skills which are essential for school admission by American kindergarten teachers.


Paper Scissors Stone – experiencing executive functioning


☆ Executive Function

• Working memory

• Cognitive / Mental flexibility

• Inhibitory control

Source of information:

Building the Brain’s “Air Traffic Control” System: How Early Experiences Shape the Development of Executive Function shape-the-development-of-executive-function/

Emotional Control and Executive Functioning


Emotion Coach EQ Training Habits

☆ Handle one’s mood first, everything comes next

☆ Know yourself and know your child, both win

☆ Parent’s demonstration, a role model for your child

☆ Apply what you have learnt, adept and adjust


Training EQ is a habit, EQ can be trained.

(John Dryden)

How to manage emotion?

How to enhance one’s EQ?

We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.

(Daniel Goleman)


EQ habit (1)

Handle one’s mood first, everything comes next

Tell yourself, not your child Handle stress

☆ know the source of stress, stay away from it

☆ face the stress, experience the stress




Parents’ emotions affect their children


Know the source of stress, stay away from it

3 steps to relieving stress

1. Deep breathing

2. Distraction (e.g. have a drink, have some chocolates….)

3. Get used to useful ways to relieve stress (e.g. calm corner,



Face the stress, experience the stress

3 steps to facing stress

1. Practise the solution (e.g. deep breathing first) 2. Warn yourself of what might happen (e.g. by

imagining how to face it)

Practise step by step when you are calm

3. Have enough confidence to do it. Self-confidence

development comes from you!


EQ habit (2)

Know yourself and know your child, both win

Development of emotional regulation I

Aged 0-1 Babies rely primarily on caregivers to meet

their basic physiological needs and comfort them to help with mood regulation. With parents’ emotional support, the child is slowly gaining self-regulation ability.

Parents can provide warmth, physical and emotional comfort

Aged 1-3

Toddlers can control impulses briefly. They will try to appease themselves by leaving the emotional

Parents can be a good



Development of emotional regulation II

Important for children to understand themselves and others, and develop appropriate strategies to handle emotion at this stage. (Murray et al., 2016b)

Aged 4: Children can use different methods to control their impulses, such as trying other activities or speaking to themselves to remind what to do, e.g. "I will wait until my mother comes back before I eat the cookie." They are more able to follow the rules without adults’ close monitoring. Of course the mood will go up and down when they are tired or under pressure.

Parents can...

Strengthen positive

behaviours, especially those that are spontaneous by

clearly explaining the reasons and rewards, e.g. active

sharing should be rewarded.

Read books related to

emotions together, let them know more about themselves and others.

Encourage your child to express emotions.

Aged 5: Their emotions become more complex, they are more capable of controlling their emotions, and they solve problems more logically. When they go to kindergarten/primary school: They step out of the


Positive Education – Emotion coach

Dr John Gottman described Emotion Coach as a type of parenting style.

• He compared different types of parenting in his researches

• Children from this parenting style are more responsive, able to recover quickly from stress; they also have better emotional responsiveness and self- control; they can notice and respond to other children's emotional signals and control their negative emotions in conflict. Longitudinal studies have also shown that these children are more self-confident, perform better in social and academic situations, and even become physically healthier.

Source of information:

Family Health Service Department of Health


Positive Education

Counselling Method – Five Steps of Emotion Coaching 1. Beware of your child’s emotions

2. Recognise your child’s expression of emotion as a perfect moment for intimacy and


3. Help your child learn to label their emotions with words

4. Listen with empathy and validate your child’s feelings

5. Set limits when you are helping your child to

2 4

3 1 5

5 Steps of Emotion Coaching

Dr John Gottman


5. Set limits

Emotion coach has an “authoritative role”.

Dr. John Gottman ( 2011 ) has referenced Dr. Haim Ginott’s words (Author of “Between Parent and Child”), that parents should make it clear to the child that:

“Although their behavior might not always be acceptable, their feelings and wishes always are.”

Parents have the responsibility to guide their child to follow social rules, do socially acceptable things.

Set basic rules, use praise and encouragement to help children develop

ideal behaviors and build their self-confidence.


EQ habit (3)

Parent’s demonstration, a role model for child

Connect your child with interactive games

Be humorous, be imaginative, be happy

Control your voice effectively


Overuse of Digital Devices and

Inferior Physical Fitness among Hong Kong Children


The Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong conducted a cohort study and a large cross-sectional study on the use of digital devices among Hong Kong children in 2012-17

• The time spent on digital devices by Hong Kong children was much higher than other areas in the world (74.8%

of children in Hong Kong spent more than 2 hours on digital devices, compared with 20.8% in United States and 47.4% in Beijing, China)

• The longitudinal cohort study showed that pre-schoolers who spent more time on television viewing and video gaming at age 5 were more likely to be overweight, have behavioural problems including emotional problems and hyperactivity as well as poor academic performance at age 9.

• Excessive use of digital devices has negative impacts on children’s behaviour, academic performance, and physical health.

Source of information:


Electronic Devices are Hazardous to Health

The Department of Health’s (DH) Report on Health Effects of Use of Internet and Electronic Screen Products (2014.7.8)

Seminar on Public Health Issues of Excessive Use of Internet, Computers, Smartphones and Similar Electronic Devices (2016.9.9)

WHO Meeting to Review Public Health Implications of Excessive Use of Internet and Electronic Devices (2016.9.9)

Mobile Phone (Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields) and Health



Solving the

Fundamental Problem of Emotion


HKU Jockey Club “Play n Gain” Project

Games can be played any time, anywhere and with anybody. It should be integrated into teaching and daily life. Games can cultivate children’s learning initiation, foster their social interactive skills and social

emotional development


HKU “NO PLAY NO GAIN” Kindergarten Social Emotional Learning Project

Researches indicated that children’s play skills and social competencies can be enhanced through group games


Emotion and Better Voicing


“ Children's Voice is Vital to their Health” - HKU Clinical Voice Centre

• Parents should set a good model, e.g. by controlling own emotion, not to shout at others or talk loudly in front of children.

• When communicating with their children, parents can slow down their speech with pause, let them understand that they should not talk only to oneself.

• Parents should advise their children with positive language, express their thoughts with encouraging and appreciating tone.

• To have a better voice, self-cultivation is very important. Parents should learn to patiently understand their children and listen to their voices. (Chinese version only)


PLAY is a language


What you need to do…

1. Play happily

2. Point out things children have done well

3. Reinforce positive behaviour


Identify emotion, express emotion

“Emotion Puzzle”

“Story Stage”

Any materials can be

used for play


Play manifests interactive communication

Board games

• Learn the social rules and rhythm of collaborative play

EQ games

• Nothing absolute

• Emotion trash can

• Situational play (role play + exchange role)

Opposite games

Lose = win Win = lose

Win if one does not get angry losing

Paper, scissors and stone

Wind blowing game


EQ habit (4)

Apply what you have learnt, adept and adjust

Every child is unique.

It is a warning signal when you react strongly towards your

child’s behaviour.

Mood swings are usually a result of

“unexpected behaviours”.

Children often give parents lots of

“surprises”, and vice versa.

Mutual Respect


Parent-child EQ tips

☆Exercising helps reduce negative emotions

☆Use any materials for daily play


Emotion Coach EQ Training Habits

☆ Handle one’s mood first, everything comes next

☆ Know yourself and know your child, both win

☆ Parent’s demonstration, a role model for the child

☆ Apply what you have learnt, adept and adjust


Rainbow Breathing


Explore the

rainbow colours


For more information…

Faculty of Education,

The University of Hong Kong


For more information…

Jockey Club “Plan n Gain” Project


For more information…

• Family Health Service, Department of Health (2017). Emotional Development of Young Children Part II: Preschoolers of 3 to 6 years old

• The Heckman equation

• Goleman, D., Brown, D., & Simply Magazine Inc. (2011). Emotional intelligence: What makes a leader. Campton, N.H:

Simply Magazine, Inc.

• Gottman, J. (2011). Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. Simon and Schuster.

• Liu, S., Yuen, M. & Rao, N. (2015). A play-based programme (Pillars of Society) to foster social skills of high-ability and average ability primary-one students in Hong Kong. Gifted Education International, 33 (3), 210-231. doi


• Liu, S., Yuen, M. & Rao, N. (2015). Outcomes for young children’s social status from playing group games: Experiences from a primary school in Hong Kong. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 25(2), 217–244. doi


Thank you!




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