Emotional intelligence quotient, or one’s EQ, is the ability to identify, understand and manage your own emotions and those of others especially under pressure in conflict situations.
The term ‘EQ’ was popularised by the renowned psychologist Daniel Goleman. He declared that one’s intelligence is not solely determined by abilities alone, but that one’s emotional intellect also plays a significant role in his success. Goleman described emotional intelligence as a set of skills responsible for social competence in one’s interpersonal relationships.
As a parent, you experience a roller coaster of emotions in a single day. So, how does your parenting EQ, or the lack of it, affect your child?
**Kusum Gandhi Vig, a Counselling Psychologist from Pune defines parenting EQ as being able to ‘match and mirror’ the emotional state of your child. “When you are sensitive to your child’s emotions and feelings,” she says, “he will open up and feel secure enough to share his feelings or any other negative emotions he may have. It is important that expressions of these emotions are acknowledged rather than ridiculed.”
Your parenting EQ is perhaps one of the primary ways in which your child can develop essential life skills. By being emotionally available for your child, encouraging him to talk about his feelings and modelling emotional control, you will be able to understand your child better and this will pave the way for effective parenting.
“EQ-smart parents can raise and nurture EQ-smart children. Emotions stand for energy in motion, and they need to be channelised towards constructive activities,” says Ms Kusum. “And, home is the safe environment for exhibiting all the positive and negative emotions like anger, fear, sadness, joy, love, surprise, shame and guilt,” she adds.
As children acquire EQ skills by imitation, parents can initiate the process of learning to manage emotions. Here are the core areas that are essential to help raise your EQ.
- Self-awareness: This is your ability to label your own emotions, identify what causes them and the ways in which they can affect your thoughts and behaviour. Connect with yourself to put things into perspective and find the reasons for your emotional discomfort, if any.
This is a good way to handle your emotions in an appropriate manner. When negative emotions go unrecognised, it affects your mood and behaviour too. An introspective assessment helps you understand why you are feeling so.
By identifying your own emotions, you are encouraging your child to recognise her range of emotions as well. Help her understand and express both positive and negative emotions equally. This enables her to talk about them without being overwhelmed and feeling isolated. This is a key aspect of EQ as she learns that others experience the same emotions as well. “Allowing your child to express emotions helps raise his self-esteem and builds trust in the home environment,” says Ms Kusum.
- Self-control: This is the ability to manage your emotions, especially the ones that tend to be disruptive or even destructive.
How it helps: When parents role-model self-control, a child also learns to do it. Also, he learns to talk about negative emotions rather than exhibiting them in an impulsive manner.
What you should do: Try not to express your negative feelings such as anger or frustration without analysing them rationally. Rather, you can redirect such intense feelings by changing your thoughts that have triggered them. Also, talk about what makes you experience those feelings. When it comes to your child, help him reflect on his negative feelings so that he can act in a rational manner. Ms Kusum says that the best way to regulate emotions in a positive manner is to nurture creative pursuits like painting, arts and crafts, creative writing or theatre, which can be based on one’s area of interest.
- Empathy: This is your ability to feel the emotional pain of others. You are able to relate to others and sense what they feel while anticipating their reactions.
How it helps: By being empathetic towards others, you are showing compassion when they are in distress and helping them overcome these emotions especially during challenging times. When you acknowledge the emotions that your child feels, he may not immediately get over his disappointment but the fact that you are aware of his feelings helps the situation immensely.
What you should do: As children develop their empathetic skills by experiencing it from others, your sense of empathy towards them is crucial. Displaying empathy encourages your child to be more emotionally literate, which enables for better social interactions and relationships. When he encounters a situation that necessitates his empathy, he reflects on similar experiences to understand and deal with them accordingly.
- Motivation: Being motivated allows one to face a challenging situation without being emotionally fazed by anger or frustration. You continue to strive to achieve the goal despite the adversities you face.
How it helps: Motivate your child by praising his efforts and hard work. Creating a sense of belonging in your home environment and connecting with your child is an effective way to foster emotional growth. Rather than constantly focussing only on academics, for instance, help him create a healthy balance of school, friends, family.
What you should do: Encourage your child to be motivated by pursuing other interests and activities. They will inspire him to discover his own passions and this, in turn, cultivates a sense of purpose in him. He is also able to manage emotional attachments whenever necessary and look at difficult situations from different perspectives, while being able to come up with solutions in a calm and rational manner.
- Social skills: These skills enable you to handle both your emotions and those of others in an effective way.
How it helps: When you display proper social skills, your child is learning the importance of social competence. This forms the basis of being able to collaborate, negotiate and work together in a team constructively.
What you should do: Communicate effectively to your child and ensure that you actively listen to her as well. This allows her to practise the same in social interactions outside the home. Being socially prudent demonstrates that you are compassionate and caring of others. Your child also understands that it is important to be socially sensitive without thinking of personal gain. She develops the ability to gauge a social situation and interact appropriately in various circumstances.
Low parenting EQ can have negative effects on your child. When you fail to identify and manage your own emotions, your child too does not learn to express his emotions. This leads to pent up anger and frustration. “This triggers negative behaviour, which can be detrimental to bringing up happy, healthy and successful children,” says Ms Kusum.
So, go ahead and make an effort to boost your parenting EQ to ensure a lifetime of happiness and success for you and your child.
**Kusum Gandhi Vig is a Counselling Psychologist, NLP Master Coach and Access Bars Facilitator
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