In your daily life, you come across different people. Some wear a broad smile on their faces despite many difficulties, and some have constant complaining behaviour. Why so? Why is it that in certain situations some people remain calm while others react aggressively? This is due to differences in Emotional Intelligence. IQ tests can’t measure this type of intelligence, yet it plays a vital role in emotional well-being.
The role of Emotional Intelligence in kids’ lives can be understood by a simple example: Suppose a kid is struggling with his school project. He is disturbed, but instead of yelling and giving up, he explains his problem and asks for help. These two responses are the results of a set of skills called ‘Emotional Intelligence’, which you will read in the following article.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to understand and manage your emotions and those of the people around you. Emotional Intelligence is channelling emotions towards positive ways to overcome stress and anxiety, communicating effectively, empathizing with others, facing challenges with courage, and defusing the state of conflict.
Inculcating and developing the roots of emotional virtues among children is like preparing a sapling to turn into a tree that stays strong during the storms of life. EQ is helpful to kids with learning and thinking differences.
An author and psychologist ‘Daniel Goleman’ explained EI in the following essential parts:-
- Self-awareness: Knowing oneself is the foundation of being strong emotionally. Self-awareness is the state where a person knows what he is feeling at a certain point in time, how his mood is, and how it affects others.
- Self-regulation: Self-regulation is having control over emotions and the way one responds. Before taking any actions, they consider the possible consequences.
- Motivation: Despite several negative thoughts and distractions, people manage their emotions and motivate themselves to accomplish their goals.
- Empathy: Developing an understanding of other people and valuing how others feel.
- Social Skills: It is the art of dealing with relationships. It is a way of learning how one should behave to fetch a positive response from others and maintain a harmonized bond with all.
He explained these essential traits as the core of Emotional Intelligence. One who masters them has a strong base of Emotional Intelligence and can positively deal with all the challenges in life.
Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Kids Life
You often come across a situation where you find that a child is not up to the mark in his tasks. The work that other kids easily do might be difficult for some kids to complete. This can create a feeling of inferiority among them due to learning differences, and they are hesitant to ask for help.
Here comes the role of Emotional Intelligence because it moulds how a child responds and faces challenges. EI contributes majorly in resolving the issues and leading towards success.
Suppose a kid is finding difficulty in completing his homework. Let’s put the five basic parts of Emotional Intelligence into play and see how they work out in solving kid’s dilemma:-
- He understands that he is not understanding the homework and is feeling frustrated.
- But instead of reacting violently, he considers the result of the same.
- He doesn’t react that way, instead, he chooses to explain his problem.
- He doesn’t quit, rather he keeps trying.
- He asks someone for help (mom, dad or an elderly person).
- He isn’t able to understand again, but he waits patiently to discuss the same with his teacher and remains enthusiastic about learning something new.
This attitude lies in the kids who have strong Emotional Intelligence. But in a reversed case, a kid may act in the following manner-
- He gets irritated when unable to find a solution and throws away the things.
- He starts yelling at the people who try to help him.
- He quits easily.
- He blames the problem instead of solving it.
- He doesn’t seek any help from anyone.
In this way, the same situation can trigger different behaviours among kids, mainly depending on their emotional well being.
Struggles of Kids
It is not always the case that a kid with learning and thinking differences also suffer from weak emotional well being. But the trouble with Emotional Intelligence can be an initial sign of learning or thinking differences.
These kinds of behavioral differences are due to many reasons. Disorders like Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also called attention deficit disorder (ADD), causes a lack of attention among kids. It is a common condition that makes it difficult for kids to focus on anything. Such kids are unable to think before their actions and keep still.
Similarly, a kid with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) has trouble understanding how words are spoken, which is the main cause they can’t interpret what others say.
On the other hand, it is also common that kids having dyslexia have a very high EI, and this is because of their brain’s natural ability to see things in the bigger picture.
How to respond?
Several social and emotional learning programs run by schools make kids aware of their emotions and deal with them in the right ways.
But you can also take some measures at home to improve and strengthen Emotional Intelligence among kids. A few steps that you can try at home are-
- Discuss the challenges: It is always preferable to talk over things. Have a word with your kid. Discuss with kids how they are feeling and what they are struggling through? Explain to them about emotions- sadness, anger, happiness, overwhelmed etc. Then listen to them and try to understand why they are feeling such emotions?
- Frame Strategies: Having control over emotions and figuring out solutions is vital in emotional intelligence. Brainstorming ways to help a kid think of different and positive outcomes.
- Help Others: To inculcate the habit of empathy and kindness for others, let your kids join you in taking care of and helping other people. Let them, volunteer. Teach them and set an example by your actions.
Tips to Develop Emotional Intelligence Among Kids
In brief, Emotional Intelligence is not something that can’t be attained. With some effort and conscious parenting, you can make your child emotionally strong. Some tips that you can apply to develop emotional intelligence among kids-
- Encourage kids to be honest with how they feel. Make them aware of their emotions and discuss the same with him.
- Practice the art of reading and understanding emotions in others. You can take the help of television or any motion picture and sit with your child to observe the expressions of various characters.
- Use different strategies like if there is a fight among kids, ask them how they feel, talk about their reactions and tell them how they can act in a positive way instead of yelling or irritating.
- Make them participate in group activities, where they can meet different kids, learn from them, observe how he behaves and have a subsequent discussion session about his feelings.
Emotional Intelligence is not an alien topic to discuss. It is one of the basic qualities whose understanding is a must to raise a child. It is the little things that build the foundation of a kid. Not just emotionally but career-wise also, a high emotional intelligence plays a vital role in a child’s overall development.