Emotional Intelligence with Afectiva, our Wishmakers of the month!
November 27, 2015  |  Written by M. Rodrigo Brao

This month´s Wishmakers are Belén Robles, María García-Parrado and Raquel Burguillo, the three psychologists that founded Afectiva, A School of Emotional and Social Development.  After years of training and experience working with children, teenagers and families, they decided to share their vision of psychology and create this project. Their work method is based on close ties and trust as they want the people who come to the school to feel welcomed and offer them a place where they can express themselves freely. We asked them how parents could develop their children´s emotional intelligence as well as how to best manage emotions, cultivate empathy and avoid bullying.

Could you describe your work to our readers?

We are dedicated to children and teenage therapy from a holistic perspective and we focus on emotional intelligence. The foundations for learning are built early on so we must introduce kids and teenagers into the world of emotions. Through individual and group therapy sessions as well as workshops, we encourage self-esteem, social skills, self-expression and emotional management.  We also create activities for schools so teachers and students can learn about emotional intelligence.

Why should children develop their emotional intelligence?

Emotions have a very important function. They give us the information we need about how we feel and they help us interpret the world that surrounds us. If children and teenagers learn to manage their emotions, they establish very positive relationships with themselves and others now and later in their adult lives.

Your workshops are practical, fun and dynamic. What sort of activities do you do?

We ask children how their day, week or weekend was. It´s important to listen to them and make sure they feel listened to. Then we engage in activities where they use clay, play-dough, paint, movement and collage, among other materials to express their feelings and work on their self-esteem. Together, we also create plays and teach them social skills.

What type of exercises do you suggest parents engage in with their children?

A good exercise is to share how their day went and what they liked and disliked about it. We ask our kids but we rarely share how our day was and that is important too. And instead of asking them how their day at school went, perhaps we can ask them how they felt today? At school, with their classmates, teachers…


How can parents teach their children to believe in themselves?

We have to be good role models. A good activity to do as parents is think about what kind of messages we want to transmit to them and be careful not to label others. For example: instead of saying you are so messy, why not try your room is a mess?”

How can we teach our kids about empathy?

Being in touch with their own feelings will teach them to be in touch with others. When speaking with our children we should show them full attention and validate their feelings and share our own as well.

Is bullying a consequence of not managing emotions?

Bullying is caused by multiple factors. A bully usually has anger management issues and lacks empathy and social skills. The victim hasn´t learned to manage fear and becomes paralyzed. The victim also lacks assertiveness and cannot seem to find other alternatives.

Being emotionally intelligent can prevent bullying. In fact, at Afectiva we are promoting anti bullying campaigns for schools and also offer workshops where students learn tools, which helps them deal with difficult situations.

Can children and parents sign up for your workshops?

Yes, there are yearlong classes children can take as well as workshops they can attend during Christmas, Easter or summer. It’s a great way of getting to know themselves and others as well as talk about things they normally don´t get a chance to otherwise.

We also provide a place and time for parents to work on their emotional intelligence because if parents and children work together, we have discovered that the impact and results are stronger.

Do you develop your children´s emotional intelligence?

Photo Credits: Afectiva


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