No doubt you’ve heard about Emotional Quotient (EQ) and Intellectual Quotient (IQ) as it has certainly taken its place in the spotlight, indicating that EQ is more important that IQ. But why is the question? Let’s take a look at EQ and IQ in more detail.
Raising Smart Kids
There is no doubt that raising smart kids is exceptionally important to today’s parents. If the sale of fast-selling DVD’s like Baby Einstein, Brainy Baby and So Smart Baby are anything to go by, it’s clear that this is a priority.
Most of us associate being smart with IQ – IQ measures mental abilities like problem solving, reasoning, abstract thinking as well as understanding new ideas. If your child had to take an IQ test there’s no doubt that it can predict a level of cognitive complexity that they can handle, however a numeric score on a test doesn’t by any means measure overall intelligence. And this is where EQ comes in.
Over the last decade, mental-health experts have also begun to factor in people’s EQ which measures how well they manage their emotions and relate to others. In fact, your child’s EQ might be an even better predictor of their future success at school and in life.
So What Is EQ?
Daniel Goleman, PhD, the Harvard psychologist who developed the idea of EQ with his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence says that an empathetic, self-aware kid, one who’s able to, say, smoothly join in a social situation with other children naturally has an advantage when it comes to learning. And a less emotionally mature child, one who, say, can’t control his impulses is more likely to have academic problems.
Like IQ, EQ is partly inborn; however it can also be taught and nurtured to give your child an advantage for later on in life. Lessons in childhood give kids the ways and means to handle their instinctive tendencies and emotions. In Goleman’s latest book, Social Intelligence, he states that parents can shape their child’s EQ by modelling their own responses to life’s challenges, by talking about their feelings and encouraging their kids to do the same. This is mostly up to parents, as your child’s brain goes through the most dramatic changes before they even get to school. Their brains are like sponges from birth up until the age of 5, so you can teach EQ in the way that you handle situations so that they watch and learn. In these formative years it’s not about what they learn, but how they actually learn it.
Socialisation & Behaviour Control
When your little ones are babies it’s important to interact with them through things like singing, smiling, making faces, making sounds and mirroring back their facial expressions. During the first 14 months these interactions are absolutely critical for your child’s development. Through these interactions, moms get to know when babies are tired or hungry and they can read other cues too. A baby also learns that their needs are important too and that they can count on mom to meet their needs. In the first year it is crucial to build trust. Pam Schiller, PhD, an early-childhood expert and author of The Complete Resource Book for Infants says, “Do whatever you can do to make sure the baby knows someone is caring for him.” In fact, trust is the critical foundation for emotional well-being throughout a person’s life. “It’s necessary for relationships with family, friends, and co-workers,” she says. “And it’s impossible to develop self-confidence without it.”
A sense of trust also affects your child’s intellectual development. “If you don’t feel safe in your environment, your brain goes into protection mode,” says Schiller. “And the curiosity that drives learning can’t work to its fullest potential.”
Redirect Natural Impulses
When your child gets to the toddler years they have difficulty with impulse control, and you can develop EQ by redirecting their natural impulses. Let’s say for example your toddler is hitting things with a toy sword but then starts hitting you, what do you do? The best way to handle this is to redirect them. Don’t just say no. Explain to them that they can hit their bed with it, the sofa, but they can’t hit you. This way you are teaching them the appropriate and inappropriate ways of handling their energy. If you practice this, their impulses will be directed in the right way as they go along.
Talk About Feelings
It’s incredibly important to talk about feelings with your kids. They experience a flood of emotions but don’t really know what they are. You often need to make a connection for them about what they are feeling by putting those feelings into words. They might say they feel funny about something, but you know that they are feeling sad or angry. Put this into words for them to help them make those connections. Also talk about your feelings too. This plants the seed of emotional self-awareness.
If your child is experiencing a floodgate of emotions that they don’t understand it will hinder learning in all areas of their lives.
Emotions are extremely powerful. Think about yourself as an adult…if something goes wrong and upsets you immensely it’s difficult to concentrate on something else. The same stands true for our kids.
Talk about Emotions
Children model their behaviour on ours and they do what we do, not do what we say. Remember this if you’re dealing with an angry child. If you react in anger too, you aren’t putting yourself in a position to help them. Don’t take it personally and engage them in conversation about why they are angry and once they are calm redirect them to do something else. Your child is dealing with a problem, so help them to find a way to solve it. This is a great way to teach your child about conflict management. If you react in anger you’re not teaching them this important skill.
Often younger kids are very timid in public, and they will react to new things as if they are threatening. They might stand behind you, bury their heads and hang onto your legs.
If your child suffers with this, arm them with all the information they need before the time about exactly what’s going to happen, who is going to be there and what they can expect. Go through the entire routine with them.
This is a great way to teach them about handling social situations. Try not to be overprotective and rather encourage them to try new things and be there to help them do it. If you stick with this approach then they will more than likely turn out not to be timid or shy. You have the power to help teach them in an instance like this.
How to Boost EQ
There are some great ways to teach and nurture EQ abilities like empathy and self-confidence. Here are a few ideas.
- Role-playing games. Kids enjoy role playing games and come to you with an idea of what they want to play. They will normally assign themselves a role and assign you a role too. They then act out their perception of what that role involves. By doing this they learn to appreciate what others are feeling based on their behaviour.
- Playing with puzzles and blocks. Kids love playing with puzzles and blocks and completing a puzzle is all about trial and error. They need to experiment and they will make mistakes and then eventually figure it out. Try and get puzzles that are a little beyond their abilities to challenge them even more. Be there to encourage but don’t jump right in and save them, let your child figure it out themselves.
- Colouring with crayons. Get your child to draw a picture of you, as an example. Then you need to ask them where different parts of your body are and they need to point them out to you. Even though it might look like a big scribble to you, they have put it together with a concept in their minds and you’ll see this as they answer you. By asking your child to interpret the drawing and being supportive you’re encouraging them to stick with it and be creative.
- Learning songs, and then changing them. Teach your child a song and sing it together. One day, drop in a new word and change it up a bit. Your child gets challenged in this way and it’s a bit of an emotional experience. But this is a good thing as your child is learning. Try and change things so that kids will notice a new challenge and compare it to previous experiences.
- Read to your child. If you read to your child you are actually stimulating a lot of their senses like touch, hearing, smelling and seeing as they sit on your lap, smell your scent, watch you form words, look at the book and more. This is one of the best ways to foster EQ. It also helps them to associate books with something they enjoy. Try and choose books that will build their EQ too.
We hope this has given you some insight into EQ and IQ as well as providing you with some ideas on how to develop the all-important skill of EQ. Do you have any other ideas?