Cultivating Emotional Intelligence
What is Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Why is it Important?
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify and manage one's own emotions and also understand the emotions of others. It consists of three parts:
1) Emotional Awareness: The ability to understand and identify your own emotions as well as the emotions of others.
2) Using Emotions: The ability to harness your emotions positively and apply them to thinking and problem solving.
3) Manage Emotions: The ability to be able to manage your emotions, regulate them as well as control the emotions of others.
Emotional Intelligence is the key around which we build relationships, engage in co-operative work as well as
Promoting Emotional Intelligence in Children:
At Fablefy, we believe, its important to inculcate emotional intelligence in children. Children learn through observation and mirror their parent's emotional intelligence. We can nurture them by by modeling EI in our own behavior. When we manage our own emotions as parents, we teach our children about managing their own emotions.
The best moments to teach emotional intelligence to a child when they are themselves very emotional.
In their book Raising an "Emotionally Intelligent Child", Gottman and coauthor Joan DeClaire coined the term "emotional coaching" to help a child at their most vulnerable moments. Here are the steps they advise:
Be aware of your child's emotions: As they grow up children may not always tell you about themselves and their lives. Often however, they may send cues to you. They may be sad, angry or frustrated for no reason. Try and look at what might have changed in their lives to cause these issues. Young children often give clues to what they're thinking during fantasy play. Gottman recounts that his daughter said to him while playing with her doll, "Barbie is really scared when you get mad." He says that in the important conversation that followed, "I assured Barbie (and my daughter) that I didn't mean to scare her and that just because I get angry, that doesn't mean I don't love her." A child's fearful reaction may also be a clue that you sound too loud, scary, and unpredictable, giving you the opportunity to apologize for not handling your anger better and assuring her that you'll try to talk more softly and control your anger better in the future.
Dealing constructively with emotions: Look at emotions whether negative or positive as opportunities for intimacy and teaching. Sometimes as parents we try to avoid speaking to our children about tough emotions or topics that may lead to suffering. Example death of a pet. This may backfire. You may act dismissive and pass comments like, "the dog was getting old anyways". Thats where you minimize the child's feelings and make them realize that the presence of such feelings is not important. A better tactic would be to try to listen and sympathize,"It's hard when a pet dies, isn't it? I feel very sad too".
Listen with empathy: Listen carefully to your child, then mirror back to him what he has said, naming the emotions for him. Gottman gives the example of a boy who's dejected because his next-door neighbors have refused to play with him. If his father responds by telling him to be a big kid and just forget about it, his son will most likely think that he is a big baby and deserves not to have any friends. It would be better, Gottman says, for the father to open the discussion by saying simply, "I bet that hurt your feelings." His son will feel relieved that his father understands what he is feeling and doesn't think the emotions are out of place. It also gives him an opportunity to talk about the situation and think about what he might do to change things.
Share with us as to how you change your behavior to help your child with his emotional intelligence. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org