Help Your Kid Build Emotional Intelligence in 3 Simple Ways

We all want our kids to succeed, and we want to give them the skills they need to do it. But are you putting volunteer service on your child’s list of crucial extra-curriculars?

If you aren’t, here’s why you should.

Did you know that emotional intelligence is a bigger predictor of long term success than good grades?
Source: GIPHY

The biggest thing that is going to help your kid through their life and future career isn’t IQ, test scores, or academic skill – it’s emotional intelligence. Decades of research shows that kids who develop skills like empathy, resilience, and how to differentiate and name emotions are much more successful as adults, and much less likely to self-harm and engage in risky behavior as teens.

Volunteer service helps prepare teens for college, not just by looking good on college applications or qualifying them for service-oriented scholarships, but by strengthening their character.

It’s been proven that volunteer service is strongly associated with more positive outcomes such as higher grades, better mental health, and better follow-through with commitments.

Learning emotional intelligence through service to others is important at every age.
Source: GIPHY

Volunteer service helps kids seek out and listen to what others need, connect with them, and create meaningful emotional connections. We can help them name all those feelings and get comfortable talking about them, help them better understand how their actions impact others, and help them process how service affects their own lives.

Teens lose half their brains in puberty, and what they do in their teen years matters.
Source: Reaction GIFs

With teens, it’s especially important to reinforce lessons of empathy and giving. The pre-teen and teenage brain goes through several (literally!) mind-blowing biological transformations, and things like regular volunteer service can help teens establish and feed life-long habits rooted in personal responsibility, empathy, and compassion.

Showing kids and teens in real, concrete terms how their actions affect others can be challenging, but it’s also vital. Service helps make those lessons easy and positive.

We’ve created a simple challenge for kids and teens of all ages to help you get started.
Source: Gifer

A Little #GivingChallenge is designed to help young people of all ages reflect on these things simply and easily, so the lessons stick, reinforcing pathways in the brain that support empathy and kindness.

With A Little #GivingChallenge, we’ve taken out all the guesswork to help you get started. Three days for kids and teens to give back in three different ways, with three concrete actions.


A Little #GivingChallenge

  • Day 1: Help your family
  • Day 2: Do something kind for a teacher, friend, or neighbor
  • Day 3: Give back to your community


With our downloadable quick guide, you’ll get ideas for each day of the challenge and a place where kids can reflect on why they chose a particular activity. This moment of reflection is super important, as it’s what builds those pathways in the brain that help kids process and retain these lessons of empathy, service, and kindness.

Download the PDF here!


To The Mothers This Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day, and I can’t help but reflect on the multitude of ways being a mother has changed me. I not only have a new appreciation for all my mom went through trying to raise me to become a confident and capable young woman, but I also recognize with deeper appreciation how critical the role is we mothers play in our children’s development in forming good human beings.

In a world full of distraction, temptation, and egocentric messaging, true intentionality is required of parents today in a way that is perhaps greater than ever before. Yet because of all those distractions, it is often harder today, I think, to always keep the eyes on the prize, so to speak. But I am also convinced, it IS possible.

I have watched my now teenager go from the innocent, awe-inspired child I once knew who so readily soaked up those early moments of service we enjoyed together, to a budding young man with an awareness of the world and the role he plays in it. While weekend soccer games, school dances, seemingly endless homework, and so many other things occupy our time and focus, there is still regular discussion about how we are living our lives to better the lives of those we have the chance to touch, and moments still carved out to make sure we are doing as well as talking.

As our spread stretches from said teenager to toddler, I will be thinking this Mother’s Day about the privilege and obligation I have to be the one mother my kids have on this earth. And while I may take this one day to relax from my duties just a little, I will remember that my respite from instilling the value of hard work, honesty, compassion, and service must be (relatively) short if I hope to see the outcome I so longingly desire.

And just as importantly, I will also remind myself to cut myself a little slack when I come up short – each day is filled with enough moments to make this happen. The race is long, and we have all the ingredients we need to make the magic.

Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere. May you feel loved and appreciated for all that you are and all that you do!

Cultivating Kindness NOW

Yesterday brought another historic tragedy, contributing to a narrative of violence not seen in any other western society. Why?! As a mother of four and a believer in the innate goodness of all people, I can’t wrap my head around it, nor can I explain it to my kids. The loss of innocent young life at the hands of yet another child is not something to be explained, I suppose. There is just simply no way to make sense of it.

I’m sure in the days to come, a picture will be painted by the media offering ideas as to how this came to pass, but the full truth will likely never be known. Regardless of the reasons, it should be a wake-up call for all of us – not to put more armed guards at the door of every school, but to arm ourselves and our children with love, to fight back not with more violence but with more tolerance and empathy, so the next youth who is crying out for help – of whatever kind – gets the support he or she needs before they go to such extremes.

Regardless of the storyline that may be developed around what led to this, the reality is every life is an accumulation of moments and experiences that shape us. As parents, every day we make choices about how we spend our time and how our kids spend theirs. Things like serving others and partaking in experiences that cultivate understanding and empathy too often fall in line behind math tutors, soccer tournaments and, sadly, even video game time. As we mourn this latest tragedy, let us remember we have the opportunity to be a force for good in the lives of our kids, their friends, and our communities. It is our job to help them, guide them, and teach them in all of the little moments that present themselves each and every day to be bearers of love, compassion and kindness. If we don’t, we will be part of the reason why this inexplicable narrative continues.

So What Now?

My oldest is in sixth grade and this election marked his first real experience studying our democratic process. As I have cringed over the past few weeks at the thought of what opinions he may form or the (mis)understandings he may develop as a result of this tumultuous election being his first real taste of American democracy, I’ve tried to remind myself at many moments that “this too shall pass.”

As many wake up this morning bewildered and unsure of where we go from here, I am trying to remind myself that that is the choice of this great nation. For months, mud-slinging and negativity have nearly overwhelmed many of us. But today I’m seeking solace where it can be found. And in the Dalai Lama’s article that appeared last week in the New York Times, I believe there is reason for hope.

He wrote, “Virtually all the world’s major religions teach that diligent work in the service of others is our highest nature and thus lies at the center of a happy life. Scientific surveys and studies confirm shared tenets of our faiths. Americans who prioritize doing good for others are almost twice as likely to say they are very happy about their lives.” He went on to say, “This helps explain why pain and indignation are sweeping through prosperous countries. The problem is not a lack of material riches. It is the growing number of people who feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies.”

While the path forward today may not seem clear, if the Dalai Lama is right, it is at least rather simple. The American people need to remember and return to what made this country great, and different, to begin with: that together, in useful service to one another and our country, we are strong. We may have lost sight of that lately, but everyone’s vision gets foggy sometimes. Let’s rub our eyes, look around, and get back to showing the world and ourselves that diligent work in the service of others is indeed our highest nature.

At PGK, this is at the heart of our mission. If you want to help us achieve it, support PGK before the end of this season of giving and help us create the change in 2017.