Tag Archives: experience

What Parents Can Do To Raise Their Child’s EQ

In 1995, Daniel Goleman introduced the idea of emotional intelligence (EQ). Before this, it was widely accepted that a person’s IQ was the sole contributing factor to their intelligence and that it was a genetic given, unable to be changed by life experience. Based on extensive research, Goleman showed how a person’s success in all areas of their life is influenced equally, if not more, by emotional characteristics, which combined make up their emotional intelligence. In addition, he stated that EQ could be taught and raised.

The implications of these findings on education were enormous. Sadly, after almost twenty years, our obsession with our children achieving high grades is greater than ever before, with little integration of what we know about EQ into the success equation. Many parents with very smart kids, still don’t understand why their children don’t do as well as they should in school and in other areas of their lives.

Lets look at a hypothetical situation. If Child A and Child B have equivalent IQs but Child B is able to persevere with a challenging task more easily than child A, who will do better at that task? Child B would be the one that most, if not all would pick and yet somehow teaching children how to be more persevering is not a part of the school curriculum. Perseverance is only one of the traits that research has shown to contribute to a child’s EQ. When combined with other characteristics like good communication skills, strong empathy and high self-esteem, the potential impact of EQ on our child’s success is enormous.

In a perfect world teaching EQ should be a part of the school curriculum, having equal status to subjects like mathematics, language and science. In the absence of this scenario, the question that remains is this: what can we, as parents, do to increase our child’s EQ?

I have some starting suggestions that require little effort from parents other than changing their perspective on the importance of EQ.

  • Make sure that the ratio of factual learning and social learning is balanced. Much of EQ growth takes place in a social environment. Extra math when your child is doing fine in math is not necessary unless it is something that they really want to do. Playing with friends is equally important.
  • Don’t over-program your child. Children need time for relaxation, self-reflection and self-discovery. These times are crucial to the healthy development of EQ.

  • Try to see success in all areas of your child’s life and not only in school. Feel good in the knowledge that academic achievement will benefit from your child’s social and emotional success.

As a mother of four, I understand the pressure that parents feel. We all want our children to have the best lives but sometimes we have to question preexisting beliefs to make that happen.

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Value Uniqueness In Your Child

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college she attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Agreed. In particular, the power of the parent-child connection cannot be underestimated. You cannot get closer to home than this. Freud believed that our personality is mostly formed in the first five years of life. In some sense I believe he was right.

Attitudes, beliefs about ourselves and others, how we feel and how we think are powerfully formed in those first years. Ideas introduced in childhood are learned easily and form the foundations on which all other ideas are built. Healthy attitudes seeded in childhood become powerful lifelong habits. This is not to say that we can’t change throughout our lives. I believe we can but not with the same ease that we can learn things right from the start. It is like a golfer who has played for twenty years with a poor swing. He can correct it but it will take great determination and an extraordinary amount of time to do so.

Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook because it can’t. Each parenting experience depends on the individual needs of the child, the unique wholeness of the parent and the way the two interact and gel. So how do we make sure that we start our child out right?

Parenting is as complex as we are, multiplied by two. However, our child’s complexity is exactly where we need to focus. Value your child’s uniqueness. The most successful children are those who are allowed to be true to themselves, and are valued for this.  When a child feels he has disappointed his parents, the resulting destruction to their self esteem can be enormous. Often parents realize after the damage is done that the disappointment they feel belongs to them and has never been about their child.

How can we steer clear of this parenting pitfall? I have a few ideas that may help.

  • Ask yourself the question: How much of this expectation belongs to me? Is this something I wished I had done?
  • When ask your child the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” don’t offer suggestions.
  • Create habitual thoughts like: My child has her own journey to travel. He or she is not me.
  • See your child as interesting and someone that you have to get to know.
  • Don’t let ego get in the way. If you allow it, you can learn from your child.

Don’t overly stress. We all, with no exceptions, make parenting mistakes. When love is at the core of parenting, mistakes are less earth-shattering, can be rectified and can be a lesson to both you and your child.

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