Mothers, Our First EQ Mentors

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Teachers fill a vital role in kids’ lives, but for many kids, one teacher that is there year-in and year-out is their mom. Mothers teach us explicitly and implicitly, by example and through lessons and lectures. This Mother’s Day we celebrate the women who are on the front line in promoting emotional intelligence, life skills and resiliency.  We take this Mother’s Day to pay tribute to the people who teach social emotional learning daily.

Mother’s Day didn’t start out as a celebration of motherhood, replete with flowers, jewelry and brunches. When Ann Reeves Jarvis started organizing Mother’s Day work clubs in the mid 19th century, they were focused on lowering infant  mortality rates, and improving the lives of working women. After the Civil War, Mother’s Friendship Days were organized to bring wives of former Union and Confederate soldiers together. Relationship building, conflict resolution, community service, and bridge building were the cornerstones of early Mother’s Day celebrations.

Often in our modern digital world, face-to-face communication is limited to school and home. With this in mind, a mom’s role in teaching life skills/resiliency/social emotional learning is more important than ever. Here are some ways mothers build self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision-making into your daily routines:


  • Motherhood is a 24/7 job, and sometimes your frustration gets the better of you. You get irritable, but then you take a few deep breaths, telling your kids that it’s been a long day and you’re a little tense. In this way you model how to manage frustration in a positive way.
  • You ask your kids about their days at school, which encourages open communication.
  • When your kids act out, you empathize and encourage them to talk it out. This teaches your child that her emotions are valid.


  • Patience takes practice. From early childhood, kids gradually learn to manage strong emotions and to wait for gratification. Moms teach and model patience and poise for kids.
  • Emotions run high when we are tired or hungry. When you help your kids understand that they’re extra frustrated because it’s close to bedtime or meal time, you are helping them understand that their feelings are temporary and this frustration will abate.

Social Awareness

  • Through their childhood, kids learn to put their experience in perspective. Mothers teach and reinforce these lessons on empathy and perspective-taking by reading stories and through creative play.
  • Throughout the day, you talk out recent playdates and fights.
  • If you have a family pet, you taught your kids how to treat the dog, when to tell if the cat is going to bite, or why it’s not a good idea to pat the canary. These are lessons in social cues and body language.

Relationship Skills

  • Learning to maintain friendships and to get along with family is vital. Kids learn that building and maintaining relationships takes work at home.
  • Every time you mediate a fight with siblings, or help your kids plan a party, you are helping kids learn relationship-nurturing skills such as conflict resolution and event planning.
  • When you contact a friend who is upset, talk your partner through a tough day, or make sure you keep social plans, you are modeling good relationship skills.

Decision Making

  • Deciding among a series of good or bad choices is challenging. Kids learn how this from mom.
  • When you allow your preschooler to pick from among three outfits, or let them pick one toy to bring on an errand, you are providing them structure to make a decision.
  • When you are having a hard time deciding what to order at a cafe and verbalize this, you are letting your kids know that decisions can be hard for grown ups too.


Looking for further inspiration for teaching and modeling social emotional learning and emotional intelligence? Take a look at these websites:

Happy Mothers’ Day and keep modeling social emotional learning.

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