Imagine a manager is given the option of hiring one of two people — person A is highly experienced and well-qualified with superior technical skills but is temperamental, a poor team player, and has an abrasive personality while person B possesses a fair level of work qualifications and technical expertise but is an excellent team player, pleasant-natured, and level-headed. Isn’t it a no-brainer that he or she would go with person B?
The world has been waking up to the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) over IQ. Since the bulk of one’s personality formation happens in one’s childhood, the significance of a well-rounded upbringing cannot be stated enough.
EQ can be defined as the ability to identify, understand, and manage your own emotions to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.
Indian parents have traditionally focused on academics and invest the majority of their time and energy in securing their child’s career prospects. With the breakdown of the joint family and working parents with a single child being the new norm in urban vistas today, bringing up well-adjusted children has become even more of a challenge.
Here is what you can do to ensure your child develops a high EQ:
It is important to respond to a child right from infancy. When a newborn starts crying, holding and speaking to her in a soothing tone teaches her that there are people who care for her and will respond to her needs. As the child gets older, responding to the child is essential, if only to say, “I am busy right now. I will speak to you as soon as I finish what I am doing.”
Encourage your child to speak. Before he goes to sleep, after you read him a bed-time story, you could make a practice of asking him how his day went. Of course, generic questions like “How was your day?” might not get a response from reticent children. So, specific questions like “What did your friend get for lunch today?” or “What did you play in the Games period?” are likely to get him to open up.
While attempting to correct poor behaviour, always explain why. Instead of saying “No,” say “You should not throw a toy on the floor because it will break and it’s bad behaviour.” Although easier said than done, avoid yelling and spanking — they might stop the bad behaviour temporarily but could result in normalising violent behaviour in the child’s psyche. Instead, try and maintain a calm tone and explain to the child the rationale behind your words. You might not be able to get him to understand initially, but over time he will absorb the same.
When a child is upset or angry and is acting out, start by empathising with her. Say “I know you are upset because you didn’t get the ice cream but you need to eat your lunch first,” or “I know you don’t want to give your favourite toy to your brother, but you can share it with him for some time.” When you empathise with her feelings you are also helping her learn to empathise with others.
When you decide on boundaries, be firm so that the child realises that there are rules that cannot be negotiated and he cannot get his way if he is being unreasonable. Of course, this means suffering through temper tantrums and ignoring tears and pleas. You could console yourself with the thought that your child will be a better-adjusted adult just because you were firm with him!
Adult relationships, whether interpersonal or work-related, are all based on the principles of communication and involve negotiation and compromise. You could allow your child to negotiate with you but might have to make it clear that you have the final say — “Yes, if you finish your homework, you can go to the park to play,” “You have to clean your room and no, you cannot drink juice at bedtime because you cleaned your room.”
Talk to your child. Tell him how your day went, or share a funny incident from your childhood or explain something that is happening on the news and fit in a moral of the story discreetly without being preachy. If you snap at your child or do something that's wrong, accept to your child that you made a mistake and apologise. There is nothing as powerful as when a parent apologises to his or her child because the child realises that his feelings are respected and that mistakes happen and it is important to accept and rectify the same. It is also important not to over-praise or over-criticise a child.
Most importantly, each and every child is unique and has particular personality traits. A child might be an introvert but might love talking about her beloved hobby, and another child could be self-centred but also very affectionate towards his family and friends. So do celebrate the individuality of each child. All that is required is to try and smoothen the rough edges of their personalities and not to transform them into impossibly perfect Stepford children.