Imagine your child being able to articulate his/her feelings into words instead of throwing a temper tantrum; he/she was able to understand and communicate to you that he/she is upset, but understands why you had to suddenly cancel your plans of taking him/her to the zoo, instead of howling and breaking his/her toys. Isn’t this the dream of every parent? The good news is that it can be achievable through emotional intelligence!
Dr Mansi Jain, Consultant Psychiatrist, Suasth Onestep Clinic said, “Most of us know about general intelligence and consider it as a harbinger of success ahead in life. But scientists have proved that there is more to a successful life than just being intelligent. Along with general intelligence, attunement to one’s own emotional state as well as other’s emotional states is necessary for reaching far in life. This skill set is known as ‘Emotional Intelligence’.
She added, “The concept of EI was given by Michael Beldoch in 1964 but made hugely popular by psychologist Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ (1996). Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, evaluate, control and express emotions.”
EI makes one more self-aware, more empathetic, and relate easily to others. It also helps them communicate better and negotiate better. This translates into greater social intelligence or social tact. Kids with higher emotional intelligence are known to perform better in academics, have lesser dropout rates from school and have fewer instances of bullying in school.
Raising emotionally intelligent kids can decrease their future chances off psychiatric illnesses like stress, depression, anxiety and drug use. All in all, emotional intelligence predicts better interpersonal relationships and sense of personal well-being.
Now the question remains can all kids be emotionally intelligent?
The answer is yes! Unlike general intelligence, being emotionally intelligent is a skill or quality rather than ability and can be learnt. Few kids are born with naturally high emotional intelligence, but most kids can be taught to recognize their feelings, understand where they come from and learn how to deal with them.
According to Dr Jain, kids are highly perceptive, inherently inquisitive about everything including emotional complexities of the world.
Dr Jain provides tips to inculcate emotional intelligence in your child.
- Provide a safe emotional environment: Kids usually model their behaviour by observing adults. If a child sees adults talk about their emotions safely without being ridiculed or judged, he is likely to follow their footsteps.
- Tell them “it’s okay to feel so”: Allow the child to feel and express his or her emotions without disapproval or dismissing them. Teach them that everyone is bound to feel varied emotions from time to time.
- Empathize: Even if you don’t agree with your child, help them feel that you understand. Empathizing simply means letting them know that you acknowledge how they feel.
- Develop problem solving: Most situations require parents to validate or mirror the child’s feelings and emotions, once they are out of grip of strong emotions most kids are able to take charge of situation and solve their problems.
Take away message: Raising emotionally intelligent children is the need of the hour. By acknowledging the influence of emotions in our lives, we inspire a new attitude toward self-awareness and mental health.
The author is a Consultant Psychiatrist at Suasth Onestep Clinic