Sunday, July 12, 2009

Build your child's EQ than IQ

Recently I was talking to the father of a young student who was depressed and suicidal before his exams. He told me: "I have always told my son to go ahead and experiment with anything-drugs, girls, car racing. I don't care, I tell him - just get me a 90%". I hear many different things in my practice, but this extreme statement really startled me. 

Yet when I thought about it a bit I realised that it just echoed the attitude I have seen in many other parents."You can do what you want as long as you can get me good scores." Period. I don't blame the parents for this at all.

Let's admit it that as a society we are obsessed with high scores. It is part of our cultural fabric now. We like to celebrate our high scorers and rubbish the low scorers. Anyone who doesn't score well is said to be doomed. However, what can high scores do for you? There is a huge body of evidence, which clearly indicates that high scores are no assurance of success in future life. 

Ground breaking research brought out by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence (1995, Bloomsbury) clearly indicates that emotional intelligence (EQ) is a greater predictor of success than IQ (significantly correlated to academic scores). For the skeptics I would recommend reading the famous Termite study highlighted in Malcom Gladwell's Outliers Allen Lane, 2008). I am sure you would agree with me that rather than obsessing about scores, it might be more helpful if parents, schools and the society at large started focussing on the emotional health of the child.

Build emotional literacy

Keep sight of the big picture. Remember that there is life beyond exams. Our children have a long way to go and face many challenges. Emotional literacy skills will help them in fulfilling their roles as better husbands/wives, daughters/sons, friends, employers/employees, parents and citizens.

Here are some common tools experts offer:

Build emotional self-awareness

As parents we should start very early in helping our children identify and become aware of various emotions. This can be done through stories, discussing their favourite TV characters, doing role plays or drawings. As they grow older, discussion and brainstorming on different emotions and their causes can help them gain insights into their own emotional make-up.

Teach them to manage emotions

The next step is equipping them with different strategies to cope with emotions such as anger, anxiety or jealousy. A simple strategy like ABCD can work wonders. A is for becoming Alert to negative thinking/self talk, B for deep Breathing, C for Changing channels to cool thoughts and D for Distracting oneself with something active and deeply involving.

Show them how to harness strengths

Children need to recognise the difference between emotions and behaviour. Therefore, the child learns that if I am feeling angry it does not mean that I have to shout or hit. Or wanting a new PS2 game in the shop does not mean that I have to get it now. Or just because I don't feel like studying for my exams does not mean I can watch TV. It is all about delaying immediate gratification, managing impulses and becoming more responsible.

Build empathy in them

The best way of building empathy skills in children is by empathising with them. If children feel they are understood, there are higher chances that they will be better listeners, sensitive to others' feelings and able to see things from others' perspective. These are the inoculations for life. Start with them now.

Posted via web from swathidharshananaidu's posterous

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