Laguna Beach Unified School District

Power of Emotional Intelligence to Support Student Success

Power of Emotional Intelligence to Support Student Success

In anticipation of LBUSD’s upcoming parent education night with Dr. Marc Brackett on March 12, in his most recent article, Dr. Viloria discusses the power of emotional intelligence and how we can use it to support student success and foster social-emotional wellbeing.

School News from the Superintendent’s Office
The power of understanding our emotions amid the mental health crisis among California youth
BY: Jason Viloria, Ed.D.

We are living in an interconnected world at an interconnected time — life used to be simpler, says the adage. Today’s youth were born as native internet users in a world inundated with immediate access to news in the era of the War on Terror and the years following the Great Recession. They are politically engaged and are at the forefront of national conversations around gun violence and climate change. They are entering a highly competitive and constantly evolving job market, and they know it. Add social and academic pressures to the mix, and you quickly begin to understand the unprecedented increase in child and adolescent mood disorders and anxiety across the United States.

On the most recent administration of the California Healthy Kids Survey in Orange County, of more than 70,000 students during the 2017-18 school year, 24 percent of 7th-graders, 30 percent of 9th-graders, and 34 percent of 11th-graders indicated that they had experienced chronic sadness or hopelessness within the past year. These trends in self-reported youth mental health data are, unfortunately, not surprising. This generation, compared with previous generations at the same age and stage in their lives, is more informed and aware of the world around them — consequently, they are also incredibly self-aware. They have grown up in an era where education about and destigmatization of mental illness is prevalent, and they are often receptive to the advice to talk openly about it. In fact, according to a 2018 report from Ipsos Mori, high-school-age Gen Z kids are more likely to speak to their parents about important personal issues. So as the adults in the conversation about mental health, how do we support our youth? The answer to this question lies in the concept of emotional intelligence — the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. Sounds simple enough, right?

Dr. Marc Brackett, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University, has dedicated the last 25 years to investigating the roots of emotional wellbeing. His life’s work has led to the development of a blueprint for understanding our emotions and using them wisely so that they help rather than hinder our success and wellbeing. His formula is a system called RULER, a high-impact and fast-effect approach to understanding and mastering emotions. The RULER framework helps teach the skills of emotional intelligence and is an acronym for recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotion.

On Thursday, March 12, 2020, Dr. Brackett will join the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) community for a parent education event to share insights and strategies from his recently published book, Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive. His presentation to families and staff in professional development sessions the following day will focus on understanding emotions and how to use them to support student success and foster social-emotional wellbeing.

LBUSD is in its third year of hosting nationally recognized speakers through the LBUSD Presents speaker series. In the inaugural event in May 2018, Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free from the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, shared her insights and strategies on how intense achievement pressure can inhibit students from developing resilience, independence, self-determination, and engagement with life. In May 2019, Dr. Denise Pope, co-author of Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids, shared research and strategies for parents and school systems to support the development of well-balanced students.

Dr. Brackett’s parent and community keynote will be held on March 12, 2020, at 5:30 p.m. in the Laguna Beach High School Artists’ Theatre. We are inviting all parents of current students, K-12, and members of the local education community to share in this informative night. The effort to reverse the unsettling trends in youth mental health data is a collective one that involves all stakeholders within our system, including students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators, and community members. We are deeply appreciative of the generous support that we have received from SchoolPower and the PTA to continue bringing these opportunities to the community. To learn more about Dr. Brackett, his research on emotional intelligence, and the upcoming event, visit

Laguna Beach Unified School District, January 29, 2020, Media Release

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