I am sure most parents have heard this term, Emotional Intelligence Quotient or EQ for short, at some point or another. It is not a very new concept. Emotional intelligence is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist best-known for his theory of multiple intelligences states that the conventional concept of intelligence is too narrow and restrictive and that measures of IQ often miss out on other “intelligences” that an individual may possess.We all want our children to focus on studying and get the highest marks possible because we think that this is what will ultimately help them be successful in life. But there is more to life and a lot more to success than getting good scores. A lot of research has been conducted on finding out why some people who did well in schools and colleges did not go on to have the best careers. A lot of this research points to the fact that IQ is an incomplete measure of a person’s abilities.IQ measures a person’s academic intelligence, whereas EQ measures emotional intelligence — a person’s ability to interact with others or ‘social intelligence’. People with high IQ do not always have social intelligence and may lack the skills to be successful in many current work environments. People with higher EQ are good at communicating with others, understanding others, have good leadership skills and are also good at working together in groups.Humans are social creatures. We thrive in groups. We seek companionship. Wherever we go, we want to have people we can talk to, we want friends. We are happiest when we are sharing our experiences with people who care for us. Our sorrows are made bearable to us by having people around us who we can talk to. Thus, EQ is much more essential to living a full life than mere intelligence. When we acknowledge the profound influence of emotions in our lives, we inspire a new attitude toward self-awareness and mental health.So how do we develop our children’s EQ? It’s quite simple really.
Listen to your child : Often, your child just needs a chance to feel heard. Whether your child is 6 months or sixteen, they need you to listen to the feelings they are expressing. Once they feel and express their feelings, they’ll let them go and get on with their life. But to feel safe letting those feelings up and out, they need to know you’re fully present and listening. When children are not encouraged to talk about their feelings they suppress these emotions. Over time, these suppressed emotions become tantrums. When we help our children feel safe enough to feel and express their emotions, we help them trust their own emotional process so that they can handle their own emotions as they get older, without tantrums or repression.
Empathize with your child : Listen to their perspective and empathize with them. You do not have to agree with them but let them know that you understand their point of view. Just being understood helps humans let go of troubling emotions. Having their position heard and acknowledged will help your child let go of negative emotions. Children develop empathy by experiencing it from others.
Talk to your child : Talk to your child about emotions. For little ones, just knowing there’s a name for their feeling is an early tool in learning to manage the emotions that flood them. Accept your child’s emotions, rather than denying or minimizing them, which gives children the message that some feelings are shameful or unacceptable. We can teach them to identify their emotions whether it is joy or sadness or frustration. Then, we teach them how to deal with their negative emotions in a constructive way. For example, we can teach them that when they feel angry, they should analyse the emotion. Where does it come from? What can they do to change the underlying cause? We teach them to ask for help when they are overwhelmed by an emotion such as stress or frustration. By doing so, we teach them that they are part of a bigger picture, they are not alone. We strengthen their sense of family bonding. We also teach them that they are responsible for their own emotions and that they are in control.
Keep an eye on any behaviour changes: As a parent, you will always have to keep an eye on their behaviour. Sudden or drastic changes in behaviour are often a result of children being overwhelmed by some emotion. Sometimes they may hide these emotions from you and they may not even realise that they are behaving differently. Make sure you let your child try to handle their emotions on their own at first, to help build a problem solving ability. It is your job as a parent to keep a watch on these changes, allow them a chance to deal with their emotions on their own and if you find they are unable to do so, talk to them and help them.
Work on their social skills: Encourage your child to interact with other children, other people. Never undermine or ignore their attempts to converse with you. For younger children, teach them how to start a conversation ( a simple “hi” and “bye” will do). Teach them to observe other people conversing, to note their facial expressions. This can help them identify how to show their own emotions and converse more effectively. If your child is shy or under confident in approaching other children or groups and joining in on their conversation, help them build their confidence. Create more opportunities for them to mix up with other children.
To sum up, let me tell you about the five components of emotional intelligence as laid out by leading psychologist and author, Daniel Goleman in his book, “Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ” (1996). 1. Self-awareness – Knowing our own emotions. 2. Self-regulation – Being able to regulate and control how we react to our emotions. 3. Internal motivation – Having a sense of what’s important in life. 4. Empathy – Understanding the emotions of others. 5. Social skills – Being able to build social connections.
At Abhinav, we urge parents to take interest in all aspects of their ward’s development. We regularly hold sessions for parents on various topics related to their ward’s overall development. We believe that it is a joint effort of both parents and teachers to ensure a child’s proper upbringing.