HEY DAD, DO YOU REALLY THINK EQ IS IMPORTANT?
This article is contributed by Dr Andrew Ma. Andrew is a seasoned leadership consultant and coach. He is passionate about leadership development and positive parenting. Learn more.
Last week I was talking to 3 scholarship recipient students about their development and future. I asked them how important is EQ ( Emotion Quotient). They all said it is very important. But then when I ask what is EQ, they often can’t explain it as well as IQ. Furthermore, when I asked if they are willing to trade off 10 IQ points to get additional 10 EQ points, no one is willing to take this offer.
As dad, are you willing to make this trade for your kids? I suspect the answer would likely be NO!
Such response tells how actually EQ is being (mis)understood and underestimated by most people, although the term EQ has started to appear since the 60s and has gained popularity since the mid-90s by the advocate Daniel Goleman.
There are increasing amount of research that indicates increased Emotional Intelligence leads to better health, academic achievement, and stronger relationships with family and others. Yet, many people have a wrong impression that IQ is mostly innate trait that can’t be changed, while EQ would be automatically improved when you are getting older. In fact, based on the latest neuroscience, our brain is actually “upgradable” according to the concept called “neuroplasticity”, ie. Our brain is like our muscle that can be “sharpen” according to how we train it, Both EQ and IQ are a learnable, measurable competence, but they are different muscles that require specific training techniques.
Children with high EQ are found to have higher ability to:
- Navigate increasing complexity and stress in school and family
- Foster positive, healthy relationships with classmates, teachers and family members
- Spark innovation
- Nourish compassion and inner peace
Here some ways to build emotional intelligence together with your child;
- Help your child recognize their own emotions.
When you see your children is experiencing emotion, you can help your children to “name” their own emotions, whether it be frustration or anger or disappointment. For example, when my daughter was sad to tell that she fails her exam, instead of immediately jumping to help her to study, I often first spend time with her and acknowledge her emotion by saying, “ Oh, I can sense you are disappointed with the result. I can sensed that you feel upset about this…”. When they are feeling upset or discouraged, ask them to describe what they are feeling, or get them to write it down or draw it. Do it often so they get to know what it feels like to be sad or angry or frustrated and they will learn to name their own emotion. Don’t forget to do it with good emotions as a parent as well too.
- Talk about your own emotions with your child.
The best way to foster emotional intelligence is to show it authentically. Express to your children how you are feeling during your day and allow them to perceive it for themselves. You can also demonstrate here how you deal with your own emotions and “get over” anger or disappointment. It is important to talk about the positive emotions too. For example, I often shared with my daughter how happy today because I have got good feedback from the participants in my training class. Sharing joy will double the joy in family as this will encourage others to share their emotions as well.
- Regulate your own emotions in front of your children
As a parent, our own emotions have been sparked or triggered by something our child may have done (good or bad). One of the most important things here to remember is not to blame your child for making you angry or sad — they haven’t made you angry — you yourself have made you angry! When I sense my emotion is stirring up, I often tell myself to slow down. My practice of mindfulness often helps me to gain a few seconds of pause, and to re-examine my options before I response. Indeed, the word “response” is similar to “responsibility”, the latter really means “ability to response responsibly”.
Let’s all learn to be a more responsible parents to our children!