How to Develop EQ in Children
Developing emotional intelligence in kids is as important as teaching them their ABCs and 123s. Children with a high level of emotional quotient (EQ) tend to have a good relationship with their family and peers.
Consequently, when they grow up, they become good citizens. Research has shown that most of the executives who rose up the corporate ladder have high EQ. Having a high EQ and a high IQ is better than having a high IQ alone because EQ enhances IQ.
Conversely speaking, children with low EQ grow up as adults who are pessimistic, see failure as permanent, want immediate gratification, and have no ability for leadership because people do not want to follow them.
But before honing EQ in your children, you must acknowledge that you can only impart what you have. You must have the courage to admit that you are imperfect and that controlling emotions is a lifelong struggle. In the course of inculcating emotional intelligence in your child, you may also have to improve yourself as a person.
These days, with computers providing quick information, children tend to have higher IQs than EQs. But who has not heard of children becoming depressed or of the high incidence of suicides among their group?
EQ is defined as a process of being sensitive to one’s own feelings, taking into account the feelings of others, and using these information to express an appropriate action to a given situation. When people react without processing the emotion, the action does not match the feeling. Most perpetrators of crimes of passion fall in this category.
Hardened criminals, who usually had poor role models in their childhood, lost the natural ability to empathize. Parents, who serve as the first role models of a child, therefore face the challenge of reinforcing EQ. EQ has been know to eventually disappear when it is not encouraged.
Aside from empathy, EQ also deals with other intangibles such as self-awareness, persistence, optimism, motivation, sympathy, and resilience. It is a multi-faceted talent. It is so complex that, unlike IQ, you cannot attach a numerical value to it.
In a broader sense, EQ equates to the meaning of love. EQ is all about loving and understanding yourself and others.
EQ has helped a lot of parents in raising children with a high level of social competence. Although the term was introduced in the mid-90s, long-term studies on children started way back in the ‘60s.
Parents and other role models teach children by way of example about how to behave. Observe how children, especially those between the ages of one and seven, absorb and follow how their role models act. Allow the child to express his emotions if the situation can accommodate the expression. Here are ways by which parents can direct their children to express what they feel:
1. Help them label their feelings by teaching them what to say. Say, “I feel _______ because ________.”
2. If the behavior is not appropriate, explore with your children. Understand where they’re coming from, then suggest a more suitable action. If you cannot delve into what the children are feeling at the time they are “acting up,” recognize what they are feeling first and then delay the talk until you get home. When you refuse to buy a toy that they really want and they start throwing a fit, you can tell them this, “I know you are frustrated because we did not buy the toy. We will talk about it later.” The phrase, “you should not” is a tall order for children.
3. Talk to your children often. This opens the communication lines.
4. Be an emotional coach. You can teach your own values by telling them, for instance, that it is not right to laugh at the crippled and people with handicaps.
5. When children are angry, tell them to count from 1 to 10 and breath deeply so they can process their feelings first.
6. Don’t downplay what they see and feel. If they ask why daddy and mommy are fighting, tell them that both of you are trying to resolve matters and are working on a solution. The contest may not mean anything to you but to them, it is something.
Change must start from within. If you want to have a better world for your children and your children’s children, you can start by owning to the fact that you can be better. Improving your own and your kids’ EQ determines what kind of person they become.