Social interactions are laden with emotionally charged information and individuals who lack emotional intelligence skills can have difficulty negotiating interpersonal situations. For children, limited emotional intelligence impacts their social relationships with the peer group and can result in negative social experiences. Decades of research in developmental psychopathology support the significant and unique contribution of social problems in the emergence of negative outcomes, including heightened risk for mental health problems. Research shows that emotional intelligence skills can be targeted and bolstered through the use of group intervention. Further, the efficacy of skill building interventions is enhanced when training extends to multiple settings (e.g., intervention setting and home) and practice outside of the treatment sessions is included.
The goal of this Phase I research project was to develop a prototype of the emotional intelligence training program, titled “Insight!”, for children ages five through seven. The prototype included the first unit of the program (Self-Awareness) along with three core parts: (1) a Professional Manual, with three accompanying sessions for Unit 1, (2) a sample of the 30-minute home video special, and (3) a web-based resource center for parents, professionals, and children. Each session applies skill training through five different types of activities (i.e., video based, drama, art, music, experiential) to provide the professional with multi-modal training options. A website resource center and parent handouts are intended to provide parents and professionals with tip sheets and supplemental activities in order to bridge the intervention into the home. Feasibility testing was conducted with child mental health professionals in the community, child mental health professionals in the school setting, and elementary school teachers and yielded very positive ratings of the product materials across all areas. Parents and their children ages five through seven also rated program materials very highly.
The Phase I results provided substantial support for continued development, as well as essential constructive feedback to inform the direction of that development. Funding was subsequently obtained for Phase II further development and testing of the program.