The word IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is familiar to all of us. It measures the “intelligence” of a person and most of us are in awe of people who have high IQ. Parents feel very proud when they find out through aptitude tests that their children get a high IQ score. But how many of us have heard of EQ?
EQ stands for Emotional (Intelligence) Quotient. It is a measure of how intelligent a person is in understanding emotions. Reading other people’s emotions, interpreting them correctly, reacting appropriately to those emotions and expressing their emotions positively, are all the ways in which a person expresses their emotional intelligence.
Increasingly it is emotional intelligence that is proving to be more important for success in life – be it career or relationships. Kids with higher emotional intelligence are usually better leaders, adapt easily, overcome setbacks much quicker and enjoy a healthy relationship with their family and friends. Today this is being valued more than just academic intelligence. Research has shown that emotional intelligence is not something one is born with necessarily, but something that can be developed right from childhood.
Here are 5 ways in which you can boost your child’s emotional intelligence-
1. Help them identify their emotions: When children are young, they struggle to understand why they feel upset or cranky. Label it for them. Tell them that they are cranky because they are hungry. Label their sadness when they miss a toy. When they are getting angry, help them identify the reason that they are angry. This helps children understand their emotions better.
2. Teach them to express these emotions appropriately: All of us experience intense emotions. Each of us have our special buttons which when pushed can make us lash out. However we know that inappropriate expression of such emotions can be detrimental. So start teaching your kids from an early age to express their emotions using appropriate language and behaviour.
3. Help them be aware of when they are stressed: Children also get stressed over many things. To us, it might be a trivial thing, but a lot of things stress out kids, causing them to act out. It might be change of homes, schools, a bully at school, a new teacher who does not gel with your child, a sibling in the family etc. Recognise that your child is stressed, talk to them about it and give them tools to deal with it- music/walk/swim etc.
4. Teach Problem solving: A lot of times, when our child comes face to face with a problem and seems upset/confused about it, we rush in to solve it for them. We feel that they are too young to figure it out and it is our duty to do so. But, instead we need to walk our child through the situation. Talk to your child about the situation and find out if they have any ideas to solve it. If you have another idea, explain to them why one idea might work better than the other. This way, next time they are faced with a similar situation, they will be able to figure it out by themselves using a similar thought process.
5. Model appropriate behaviour: Last but not least, children learn best not by what we say, but what we do. If you lash out in anger, if you use bad language, if you do not respectfully deal with other relationships, there is a higher chance that your children will imbibe and imitate the same qualities. So we have to start with ourselves. The last one is a particularly tough one for the parents. It is easy to buy things for our kids. But it takes a lot more effort and engagement to equip our children to be emotionally steady and competent. In this process, the parents also grow along with the child. As we teach our children, we teach ourselves too to become better at handling our emotions. After all, TEACHING IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF LEARNING!