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High IQ Is Good, But These 11 Character Traits Can Help Your Child Succeed More
  • When we talk about our child’s future success, we often associate it with having a high IQ and academic excellence. But many experts have said time and again that there are better drivers for success than those two factors. These include a person’s character and social skills — also known as emotional quotient (EQ).

    EQ or emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, choosing, and monitoring how we think, feel, and act. Dr. Laura Markham, a psychologist and parenting expert, says in an article on Aha! Parenting that “emotional intelligence will be a crucial factor throughout your child’s life in his or her eventual academic and career success.”

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    11 character skills more important than IQ 

    As parents, one of our most important roles is to teach our kids to be more independent, as well as nurture their emotional and social competencies. Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and author of Tomorrow’s Change Makers: Reclaiming the Power of Citizenship, came up with eight core abilities which she says help kids become “pilots of their own lives.”

    These abilities, called the compass advantage, include curiosity, empathy, and integrity. However, we also think that children can develop their emotional intelligence by learning the following traits: communication, compassion, courage, gratitude, humility, perseverance, self-control, and teamwork.

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    Communication is the act of giving, receiving, and sharing information —in other words, talking or writing, and listening or reading, says Common Sense Media. Good communicators can listen carefully to others, speak or write clearly, and have respect for different opinions.


    In the real world, your child’s future employers would be on the lookout for good communicators because they are seen as more productive if they know how to better communicate with their peers, according to Monster.com.

    While your kids are young, start initiating conversations, and make sure to provide back-and-forth exchange. This gives your children the much-needed opportunity to practice their communication skills. They not only get to practice understanding what another person is saying, but they are also learning how to respond appropriately, which are essential components not just in communication but for social skills as well.

    Compassion and empathy

    “Compassion is the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself,” explains psychotherapist Beverly Engel in her article for Psychology Today. It also has an added element of having a desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another. Empathy, on the other hand, is part of emotional quotient and is the ability to put oneself in the other person’s shoes. 

    When a child learns to be compassionate and empathic, he also learns to be kind, loving, and generous. He is responsive to others’ needs and is motivated to do good.  

    For children to learn compassion and empathy, parents must become good role models. “Children learn compassion through many experiences, including caring for the family pet. But children who participate in programs that teach kindness, respect, empathy, and compassion and who have families that reinforce those strengths at home develop the muscles they need to become civically-engaged adolescents and adults,” says Dr. Price-Mitchell.

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    Courage is the ability to do something difficult, even when there’s a risk. And since kids are naturally curious, they slowly build courage as they grow and take on more challenges. However, they can quickly become fearful if parents hover and stop them from taking “safe risks.” 

    One way to encourage kids to be brave is to let them engage in risky play. “Studies show that risky play is really important for all kids because it teaches hazard assessment, delayed gratification, resilience, and confidence,” says Caroline Paul, author of The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure.


    Intellectual curiosity is wanting to learn and acquire new knowledge or skills and ways of understanding the world. So, don’t ignore your child whenever he asks you questions. Doing so may stifle his curiosity and desire for knowledge. Remember: a curious mind can be a predictor of success and it’s backed up by science. Merely engaging your child can already answer her questions as sometimes, she’s just looking to connect with her parents.


    At preschool age, your child still lacks maturity and is not yet developmentally ready to learn real gratitude. So, don’t force him to learn. Instead, make gratefulness a regular habit.  

    Ask your child what he’s thankful for at bedtime, shares Nancy Shah, a psychologist specializing in parenting, to LearnVest. The exercise will help your child build an appreciation for all the positive things in his life — people and experiences included.

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    Humility works together with gratitude as a character trait vital to one’s emotional intelligence. A humble individual can foster healthy relationships, inner well-being, and success.  

    For a child to understand the concept of humility, he should first learn self-acceptance. He needs to be comfortable in his own skin so that he won’t compare himself to others. He may know that at times, he is better, or smarter than others, but he won’t feel the need to boast — instead, let him learn to acknowledge that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. 


    Integrity is sometimes summed up as “doing the right thing, even when no one is looking,” according to Common Sense Media. People with this character trait will tell the truth and act in a sincerely. But integrity is more than just being honest — it’s acting ethically, consistently, and in a trustworthy manner.

    The best way to teach integrity is to model it for your child, reminds Dr. Price-Mitchell. Be meticulous about what you say or share on social media and ask yourself if it reflects your values, or if it’s hurtful to others. 
    You can also reward respectful behavior and explore consequences at home. When your child lies, talk to him that dishonesty or disrespect is never acceptable in your family. “Consequences should be consistent and clearly understood,” says Dr. Price-Mitchell.


    Perseverance is the ability to keep doing something despite facing obstacles. Learning this trait earlier on nurtures grit, which is also important in emotional intelligence. With perseverance, you can turn any weakness into a strength.


    Start honing this trait by praising your child’s hard work and process. Focusing on that helps them see how determination and diligence lead to a more significant accomplishment. With that in mind, you may also encourage your child to step outside his comfort zone. Let him try new activities and encourage her not to give up when doing challenging ones. Give him a chance to prove he can do anything he sets his mind to.

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    Children with high self-control can set goals and follow through with them. For example, they can study and do their homework on their own without asking for help. It’s a trait proven to benefit kids later in life. A recent study found that children with higher self-control are more likely to find and retain jobs as adults. They can better set goals, solve problems, and control impulses. 

    To raise a child with better self-control, start by setting limits that he will be able to understand. For example, if you want him to get dressed for school, but he refuses, you can give him an extra five minutes to play. If he agrees, he’ll be able to control him better and stop playing when the time is up. There are also games you can play to help her get better at self-regulation. 


    The last character trait that will help develop your child’s emotional quotient is teamwork. It's about working respectfully and effectively with a group and doing your share. When you’re a member of a team, you learn how to put the group’s needs above your own.


    In a career setting, teamwork is among the skills that spell the difference between an adequate and ideal candidate. It is a skill highly sought after by many employers.  

    Kids are given various opportunities to practice this skill at home and at school. School projects, sports, games, and even family decisions require the ability to be flexible and solve problems. Teamwork also builds character, friendship, and other essential life skills that will benefit children when they grow older.

    Emotional intelligence is responsible for 80% of the “success” in our lives. So, don’t just rely on your child’s smarts. Make sure his emotional and social skills are well-developed, too.

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