Are You Using Emotional Intelligence When You Parent?

The idea of Emotional Intelligence (E.I.) was proposed in the early 1980’s. E.I. is the ability to access and make use of your feelings in order to be motivated and make good decisions. Daniel Goleman, a leading authority on Emotional Intelligence, describes the abilities that make up E.I. as your capacity to recognize your own feelings and those of others in order to manage your emotions.

Emotional Intelligence:

• Defines how and what you learn.

• Helps you set priorities and make choices.

• Reduces discipline problems.

• Increases on task behavior.

In the last twelve years, researchers have discovered that emotional awareness and the ability to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness, including family relationships. For instance, people in good moods are better at inductive reasoning and creative problem solving. Emotional Intelligence is not set like I.Q. These abilities are learned and can be retained through motivation, effort, practice, and support. Children learn E.I. from a combination of modeling, experience, practice and reflection. The family setting is an excellent place to provide this opportunity.

Emotional Intelligent parenting focuses on five main principles:

1. Be aware of your own feelings and those of others.

• Think of a recent problem in the family.

• How were you, your children, or others feeling who were involved in the problem?

2. Show empathy and understand others’ points of view.

• Am I able to understand another’s point of view even during an argument or when I don’t agree?

• Do I express it to them?

3. Regulate and cope positively with emotional and behavioral impulses.

• How do I cope with anger, anxiety and others stresses?

• Am I able to maintain self-control when stressed or after a hard day?

• How often do I yell at others? • When are my best and worst times?

4. Be positive.

• Have goals and be plan oriented.

• What goals do I have for my family and myself?

• What plans do I have for achieving them?

5. Use positive social skills in handling relationships.

• Do I listen to others and reflect back to people what they are saying?

• How do I deal with problematic, everyday interpersonal situations?

• Do I consider alternatives before deciding on a course of action?

In addition, you can check on your child’s E.I. by using these same five principles. For instance, the next time you are concerned about your child’s behavior or attitude, consider some of these questions:

1. How well can my child identify and verbalize feelings? Can my child identify feelings in others?

2. How does my child show empathy or relate to another’s feelings? Can my child understand different points of view or see both sides of an argument?

3. Can my child wait to get what he/she wants? How well can my child tolerate frustration? How does he/she express anger or other negative feelings?

4. What goals does my child have? Does my child plan things out before doing something? How have I helped him/her develop a plan for achieving a goal?

5. How does my child resolve conflict? Does he/she listen and think of different ways of resolving conflicts? Can he/she do it independently?

The two factors in children that predict success and happiness in adults are:

• Learning how to deal with adversity.

• Knowing how to create and sustain joy in your life.

Using the five E.I. principles, you have the opportunity of modeling and teaching your child how to deal with adversity. You also have the opportunity to demonstrate to your child how to create and sustain joy.

E.I. may be responsible for as much as 80% of the “success” in your adult life. As you think about when you and your child are at your best and worst, which of the five principles are the easiest for you and which are the most challenging? It is not too late to learn how to put these principles into action with effort, practice, and support. As a parent, the payoff is worth it.