A Pinch Of Thoughts

Importance of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

EQ vs IQ has been a debate for quite some time now. Earlier, people always leaned towards IQ as it is a ‘relative’ measure of a person’s intelligence and well that is important for having a successful life, career etc.

But recently, psychologist and author, Daniel Goleman suggests that EQ might be even more important than IQ. Additionally, he also suggests that there could be multiple intelligences in a person and that each person could have several strengths in these areas.

So, what exactly is EQ? And why is it important?

EQ is the abbreviation for Emotional Quotient. EQ is known as one’s ability to identify and mange one’s emotions as well as that of the others.

Higher level of EQ is important as it is an effective and better predictor of success than intelligence. Chris Meyers, author of Enlightened Entrepreneurship, mentions that despite him not being the “smartest” somehow excelled at his workplace where he was surrounded by ‘intelligent’ and ‘smart’ people, as he was able to gain the trust and respect of his colleagues and superiors.

However, his son, Jack, who is exceptionally brilliant with an IQ if 145 did face some emotional challenges despite his high intelligence. He figured out that Jack’s emotional intelligence was lower compared to his IQ.

That is exactly why EQ is more important than raw intelligence as success in life and business is all about character, emotions, capability of managing other people’s emotions and relationships.

Therefore, it is important that parents should focus on raising an emotionally intelligent child.

It might not be easy, but it is possible if started at an earlier age where it is easy to mould their thoughts and condition them.

Listed below are some ways that could help parents in raising an emotionally intelligent child:

1. Being aware of Emotions: Yours and Your Child’s

We all know that dealing with children isn’t easy; in fact, it is rather stressful. Parents often tend to focus on dealing with their child’s “misbehaviour”. But then we don’t really try and understand as to what makes a child misbehave. When a child misbehaves it is clear that the child is unable to handle negative emotions. And this is something we as parents never really teach our children.

In order to do that, we must first “keep our emotions in check”. Try not dealing with the situation by showing anger, displeasure or even lashing out. Remember, children often learn from their parents and emulate them.

So, it is important that you communicate with the child about how you feel about their actions, so that they respect their own emotions.

Try and empathize. This does not mean that you agree with your child’s misbehaviour. Try and understand their perspective. Help them communicate their emotions. It might not be easy for a child, but you need to be patient.

For example- your child is unhappy because you cancelled a picnic, you could say, “I understand you are angry and sad that we cancelled the picnic.” If you see that your child is unhappy about a gift, he/she received, you could ask “Are you feeling jealous and sad because you feel that your brother/sister received a better one?”

 This little gesture will make them realize that you are paying attention to them and maybe when your child faces a similar situation with their friends, they might take a similar approach to deal with their situation, where not only are they able to handle their own emotions, but also understand what is exactly going on with their friends. This is also great for developing people management skills.

Also, do not be hooked on being liked by your child. Many a times, you might find that whatever you do does not seem to be enough for your child and you might feel that your child doesn’t love/like you enough. That is alright.

If you want your child to think that you are a cool parent, let me tell you, here you are trying to fulfil your need not theirs. Just because you feel hurt, don’t let it take over your decisions. By doing that, you will be blocking your awareness of your child’s emotions.

2. Improve and help with their problem-solving skills.

This is very crucial for raising an emotionally intelligent child. Teaching your child to solve a problem is an important aspect of building emotional intelligence.

A simple way to do this is by labelling emotions and then helping them identify those emotions while dealing with a problem. Labelling emotions is akin to building a vocabulary to express feelings, such as- upset, sad, angry, jealous, happy thrilled, excited etc.

If you find that your child is unhappy about something, let’s say they are annoyed that they don’t get to watch their favourite show because of school, homework, etc…

In this case, you could help them identify what they could do differently, in order to be able to include TV time in their schedule. Help them brainstorm. Help them come up with their solutions first before you lay down your rules. Try and coach them; don’t jump in to solve their problems. Once they come up with solutions, help them pick the best one while reminding them of certain ground rules.

Caution: do not slip up on your parenting role and end up giving them a free hand to do as they please. 

3. Never shy away from expressing your emotions

Your child needs to be aware of what you are going through and your emotions. Never hide it from them because this could lead to them doing the same when it comes to their emotions. Children are very observant, more than parents would like to believe. They can always sense it.

If you are in a foul mood, all ready to explode, try telling your child, “I am having a tough time dealing with a certain problem. Hope you won’t mind if I am not very happy and smiley around you at the moment, but I will be alright.”

If your actions have hurt your child, apologize immediately.

All these things matter while raising an emotionally intelligent child. It helps them connect better to everyone’s emotions. After all, when they are out in the world, they will have to deal with different types of people and emotional intelligence will help deal with people without being hurt or hurting others and will also help them navigate through tricky situations.

4. Allow them to express their emotions.

Well, we all know that anger or rage dissipates once its all vented out. We all have been there. So, let your child express their emotions the way they want (of course try and intervene if it goes out of hand!). If they are angry, let them shout it out and express their rage.

If they are sad and want to cry it out, allow them to do so.Don’t go about telling them that crying is a sign of weakness and that their friends would end up making fun of them if they do so in public.

 This will make them feel that you are present and are listening to them and that you can feel what they are feeling at that moment. Your cooperation will help them feel relaxed and they will know that it is safe to express their emotions.

As parents, take a deep breath and let it happen. Resist your urge to interrupt or discipline them at that very moment. Once things have calmed down, and if there is something that needs to be explained to the child, you will see that your child will be amazingly receptive to what you have to say. This might be an ongoing thing as you will often notice and the whole cycle might repeat itself, each time.

So, as parents your mantra is “to stay calm and let the storm pass”.

All these things mentioned above will instil qualities like patience, empathy, humility and grit.

As Mary Angelou quoted– “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

And according to Chris Meyers- “Never think too highly of yourself just because you are smart. In the end, it is people who understand feelings, not facts, that win the day!”

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