Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Emotionally Intelligent Child
Last month in the article Teaching your children the importance of hard work and responsibility, we talked about the building blocks and blockades necessary to raise our children to become successful adults.

Although it was considered enough to feed, clothe and raise children in our parents' day, this is no longer sufficient because our understanding of what they really need from us has changed. As we know, it’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life.

You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships. When it comes to happiness and success in life, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as intellectual ability (IQ). Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at work, and achieve your career and personal goals.

As we all know a person's childhood plays a major role in shaping his/her personality. Developing emotional intelligence in children will help them build a rational thought process with which decisions are made in future. It can save your child a lot of trauma caused by imprudent actions later. Further, emotional intelligence helps the child to understand his/her skills, abilities and capabilities better. It contributes to the child's rapid psychological development in a positive direction. Hardships are a part of life and an emotionally intelligent child is better equipped to deal with them. They will be able to understand themselves as well as others and become sensitive to feelings.

Emotional intelligence consists of four attributes:
  • Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
  • Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
  • Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict
Of course the above concepts might be difficult or even impossible for a child to grasp so it is our job to help the child daily to become familiar with and in control of his or her emotions. Here are some tips I found, to assist parents help their children develop their EQ:
  • Help your child identify his feelings. This is the first step. If your child can't identify his feelings, how is he supposed to monitor them or read the feelings of others? This is where many parents fall down because they were raised by parents who taught them to stuff or deny their feelings. Let your children have their feelings and help them to identify them. Use clarifying statements such as, "I can see that you're feeling frustrated because you're having difficulty tying your shoes. I remember how that feels. Learning to tie your shoes can be tricky, but keep practicing and you'll get it. Here, let me show you a little trick I know—you might like this way a little better."
  • Don't tell children to just bear it. A child who is made to push down his feelings will eventually explode and lash out at others (including you) or implode and slowly destroy himself. When you teach a child emotional intelligence skills, you teach him how to identify and acknowledge his feelings. Once he is able to do this, he will learn that there are times when the needs of a situation dictate that he act in spite of his feelings for the best interest of those involved. As you can see, taking the time to teach a child this process is very different from demanding that he suck it up. For a fun-spirited way of teaching your child how to transcend moods and feelings, see my special report below.
  • Frame interactions with your child positively. When you're correcting him, discuss, don't yell. (A discussion is a conversation that takes place between two people. It is not a lecture.) Remember, your child is learning how to get along with others which is a process that takes place over time. Yelling at him models for him what emotional intelligence is NOT. When you yell at him, you are teaching him that to get his point across, he must yell at others. Instead, get his attention and engage him—pointing out what he did right and consulting with him about what he could have done to take others feelings into account. Going through this process with your child helps him develop the self-reflection skills that lead to emotional intelligence.
  • Give your child specific, supportive feedback about his interactions with others. Use these statements to help him discover his own identity as one who cares for himself and others. Don't tell him, show him through careful selection of your words. For instance, you can say something like, "I noticed how you helped your brother when he was feeling frustrated, even though he was not being nice. I was impressed that rather than reacting to his behavior, you responded and gave him what he needed. How does it feel to know that you can choose to act with patience in the face of someone else's anger?
We have often heard or witnessed cases of physically and verbally abusive spouses, wives who are rude, spiteful, who nag and sulk endlessly. Many of theses traits might have been obvious during childhood. it is my firm belief that if every parent accepted the responsibility of teaching their children to navigate the depths of their emotions, the world would be a much better place.

Ijeoma Olujekun

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