For as long as I can remember, IQ (Intelligence Quotient) was the targeted skill that needed building up in children. There were tonnes of books and quizzes, coaches and classes, it was and still is crazy. People’s success was attributed to their IQ alone.
Turns out, IQ is not the only contributing factor to success later in life. Both professional and social successes can be linked to greater extent than previously believed, not to IQ but rather EQ. Consider:
The above illustration is quite to the point and self explanatory.
The research says it all:
In this post I’ll generally outline how EQ can help children become highly successful and lead ‘meaningful lives’ and tips on how to develop this ability.
Lets start by discussing what EQ actually is:
Very simply put, it is the ability to understand what you are feeling, how to control those feelings and use them in positive way.
In young children, every single emotion that we adults feel are present. The problem is that parents sometimes don’t know what they are feeling themselves, unable to pinpoint the exact type of emotion that is causing them distress, let alone tackling those feelings such that they don’t become self-destructive.
What happens as a result?
- lack of control
- lack of empathy (not to be confused with pity or sympathy)
- poor communication skills leading to frustration
- weak decision making
- don’t know how co-operate
- can not effectively self evaluate
- no acceptance/tolerance
- anger issues
- no idea how to handle conflict
- unhealthy relationships with family/peers
- overall stress and lack of optimum functioning both mentally and physically
- distraction and lack of focus
I could go on and on, but you get the point. Okay, so what can we do about it?
It’s not going to be easy especially if you have been conditioned not to show feelings or weakness, that being strong is all about being hard and emotionless, that feelings weaken our judgement or that showing vulnerability is a major sin.
On the contrary, kids who have been raised with a strong EQ have been shown to be trustworthy, confident and self motivated individuals who have done much much better in life compared with kids who have only been given IQ training all their lives.
So here is what you- the parent- can do effective immediately to give your child an edge:
Learn to identify the emotion at hand: A little girl is distressed because of name calling at school. We usually just advise the child to tell the teacher, to give the bully a punch in the face or to ignore. What of the fall out from the emotions in the little girls heart. Ask her: How did you feel when she called you these names? This is the first step, could be she felt angry because she knew that there was truth in the remark (you’re ugly), maybe she just feels sad that people can be so mean. So that is step one.
Here is a great ‘feelings list’ that teachers often use at school to identify and pinpoint the exact emotion: Primary-Feelings-Chart
You could tell the child to write it out:
Now deal: There is a tremendous amount of relief when the words are said aloud. Once the feelings are clear and the exact cause identified, deal, but in a way that is conducive. Make it a learning moment, a aha moment. Build empathy. Explain that bullies are tortured individuals. Ask them to feel how that child might be feeling, develop empathy. At the very least teach your child how to to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Ask your child to respond in kindness. Instead of deflecting or attacking, ask her to go up to the bully and very clearly ask him to stop. Obviously I’m not saying the little girl needs to be a push over. Under the circumstances that clearly put her well-being at risk, grown ups should intervene.
Here are teeny tiny more tips:
1. Start Early: By promptly seeing to you baby’s distress, maintaining good eye contact and talking and reading often will build trust and the base for developing further skills.
2. Acceptance: As kids grow, their temperaments begin to peek through. They may react to a certain situation in a completely different way than you would, but you need to accept, empathize and respect that.
3. Self Soothing Tactics: Whenever you feel your child is escalating, teach him how to calm down, Either change the settings, have a glass of water, count down from 10, because no conflict can be resolved unless not done with a cool mind.
4. Circle of Influence: Teaching children very early on to give it their best and then leave it is the best strategy for their future. Dealing with things that are they can change over things they just can’t can save them a lot of despair.
5. Smile: Showing a smile engages anybody immediately. Teach kids to have a happy demeanor over being grumpy and moody (even though that’s the definition of your average teenager).
6. Praise, Give and Receive: This has to be done genuinely, not your proverbial buttering up. There is a difference. Sincerity can be felt even by little children. If you are not sincere in your appreciation, then don’t give it. But teach kids to see the good in a bad situation.
7. Distractions don’t work: To simply dismiss your child’s feelings because you think he’ll get over it soon enough is sometimes not the way to go. Sometimes we just divert their attentions elsewhere when in reality their feeling need seeing to. You know your child better than anyone and can be the best judge of that.
8. Listening: This is a valuable asset to develop. It is the first step in starting to solve any issue. In our haste and judgmental views, we just don’t take the time to listen. Teach your child to listen even if they are unagreeable to those view points. This will only happen if you become the role model.
9. Story time: Tell stories. Our Prophet (PBUH) was the most empathetic human being. There are countless examples of his kindness and humanity and duas to help.
I hope this post has helped: I know it’s a tad long, but reform is needed.
I leave you with a self assessment quiz on how strong your EQ is: