By Will Bail
In the 21st century, local communities abound with professional tutoring establishments; gifted and talented programs; and language immersion curricula. Parents put a premium on fostering the intellects of their children. Much is riding on it: academic success, college admissions and career advancement, to name a few. Yet happiness and prosperity as an adult are undermined, nevertheless, when emotions confuse and frustrate children in their formative years. Dysfunctions and maladjustment impair an otherwise promising future no matter how high a child’s IQ. Understanding the importance of healthy and durable emotional intelligence, on the other hand, helps parents to help their children.
The ability to recognise, distinguish and manage emotions is commonly known as emotional intelligence (EI) or, alternatively, an emotional quotient (EQ). It stands to reason, then, that the higher the EQ, the better an individual exercises self-control, social mindfulness and clear thinking. Of course, EI looks different depending on the context. Home, school, recreational settings and the workplace each call for distinct expressions of EI. Defending turf on the playing field requires single-minded aggressiveness. Yet such an emotional state should well be regulated in the framework of home and family. The capacity to make such shifts is best developed in childhood.
Dr. Marc Brackett of the Yale University Center for Emotional Intelligence offers the RULER acronym as a basis on which to nurture EI in young people:
R — Recognising emotions in oneself and other people
U — Understanding the genesis and the effects of such emotions
L — Labeling emotions with precision and accuracy
E — Expressing those feelings in a manner that suits the situation
R — Regulating emotions for the best outcome
What actions can parents undertake to meet these EI benchmarks? One way to do this is to establish a discipline of mindfulness. Many parents and school districts offer yoga to children but other, less formal, practices are equally efficacious. Nature awalks, prayers, one-on-one conversations and limiting screen time all help children pay attention to their inner lives.
Speaking of conversation, parents can remember the importance of allowing a child to speak and to listen to them closely. These are moments when the parent can walk through a problem with the son or daughter, helping the child to learn problem-solving, forbearance and values. Sometimes, however, the feelings run deep, and are hard to express. On such occasions, parents must learn non-verbal cues like body language and facial expressions. Only spending adequate time with the children can instill this knowledge.
As a child grows to adulthood — and begins making his or her way in the world — the EQ becomes more evident to family, friends and co-workers. Still, it is not too late to boost the emotional quotient score. Increasingly, employers are seeing value in EI among the workforce. Utilizing services from EI experts like Genos International, they have provided training, education and skills to their people in order to cultivate engaging, resilient and mindful personnel.