I wanted to write an article on Emotional Development first because I feel it’s crucially important to a “Family Team’s” holistic success. Second, because it relates very strongly to “My Story” and is another good follow on article to my “Preparing Children for School” article. Very interestingly whilst I was researching this article I came across what I believe is the main reason for my lack of security as a child. The site, www.psb.org/parents/childdevelopmenttracker puts forward that one of the factors that influences a child’s development of emotional intelligence is the level of security they feel in their relationship with adults around them. I definitely lacked security here and the interesting thing is that looking back on things it was probably down to two factors; first, the poor way that certain adults around me expressed things. Second, I feel there was ongoing miscommunication due to the “uptight” body language of certain adults around me because they themselves were also uncertain. Before going into other factors that influence emotional development I will take a moment to outline what it is. 🙂
The website, www.kidsmatter.edu.au defines emotional development as the ability to identify feelings and emotions, understand both how and why the occur and recognising one’s own feelings, plus the feelings of others around you and being able to learn effective ways of handling them. A point to note here is that during babyhood a child feels basic emotions that are clear to the adult – joy, frustration, sadness etc.; it’s very clear cut from a baby’s body language exactly what emotion they’re feeling. Very interesting growing up as life becomes more involved, a child’s feelings become more complex and not always so clearly defined. Kidsmatter also rather interestingly point out the different levels in that we feel emotions. There are four different components to the way we experience emotion, these are; our physical response, for instance, a raised heartbeat, our actual feelings that can be recognised and named, any thought and judgements we may have as a result of feeling emotions and finally, what has been described as “action signals”. This is defined well by the response that Body Language Expert Joe Navarro in his book, “What Every Body is Saying” (love the pun!) puts forward with regards to how people respond to “fear”. He puts forward that depend on the situation the main responses to fear are “freeze, flight, or fight” that is also evident in the animal kingdom too. This clearly illustrates what is meant by “action signals”. 🙂
Emotional Intelligence takes this further and is defined by Wikipedia as being the capability of an individual to “recognise their own and other people’s emotions, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately.” It also adds the ability to direct ones “thinking and behaviour” to be able to “manage and adjust” their emotions in order to be able to adapt to various social environments and achieve goals. I would also add, to recognise the triggers of certain more negative emotions you as an individual may be prone to feeling, because if you know what causes them you can:
- Be much more prepared to make a better choice when dealing with them.
- Avoid the cause altogether so you don’t put yourself in the situation where you’re having to deal with them, – NB This is more relevant if it’s something you really struggle with that’s holding you back.
Doctor Travis Bradberry, an Expert on Emotional Intelligence, puts forward a great example of recognising a trigger that could potentially cause anyone to make a less Emotionally Intelligent choice. In his article entitled, “11 Habits of Truly Happy People” he puts forwards that getting enough sleep is one thing that Emotionally Intelligent people do as it “improves your mood, focus and self-control”. So please avoid the “excuse of being tired” with both yourself and your children. You can still empathise with your child, instead of excusing poor choices made due to tiredness; inform them that “tired children need to go to sleep”! – It works and their behaviour choices will dramatically improve – trust me. 🙂
The important thing to note about Emotional Intelligence is that when mastered it puts you in the “Driver’s Seat”. An individual could either feel liberated, or rather daunted by the prospect of being in complete control of their emotions. It is the former that is most likely to achieve success and not use how they are feeling as an excuse for lack of progress, or poor choice of behaviour. This is supported by www.psb.org/parents/childdevelopmenttracker that states; “A child will have a strong foundation for later development if he, or she can manage personal feelings, understand others feelings and needs and interact positively with others.” 🙂
As I mentioned in my article on Social Development, people who know how to “get on” with other people are more holistically successful. Emotional Intelligence provides a further “explanation” of this as it highlights how the ability to “understand” and “get on” with other people will bring success in any situation. Most circumstances involve contact with people in one form or another whether it’s directly, or remotely. As www.psychcentral.com/lib puts forward, Emotional Intelligence is almost more important than Intellectual Intelligence for that vast majority of people to achieve success in their career and I would say it’s definitely more important for everyone to achieve success in all other areas of life, namely in love and socially with family and friends. This is because being able to interpret the subtle signals in other people’s Body Language and thus respond more appropriately makes a successful outcome inevitable. Joe Navarro stipulates this point throughout his aforementioned book. Theodore Roosevelt also put forward; “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get on with people.” 🙂
In addition to the level of security a child’s feels in his/her relationship with adults the other influencing factors of Emotion Intelligence in accordance to www.psb.org/parents/childdevelopmenttracker are; opportunities provided to enable a child to learn social/ emotional skills, how effectively their emotional needs are met, how much stress they have in their life, a child’s inborn temperament and their natural ability to learn, any cultural influences and role-modelled behaviour by adults. It’s obvious that the more opportunity a child receives to learn the “skills” of Emotional Intelligence, the more they’ll “grasp” the concept. The children who learn the most will be the ones who make more mistakes! Richard Wiseman (NB he really is a wise man!!) has a fantastic book called “The Luck Factor”, all about how you create your own luck. The overriding quality in individuals who create the most luck is a positive outlook on life. These individuals put themselves in situations that give them maximum opportunity and thus appear to have “a lucky star”! When you analyse their situation you realise they’ve “worked smart” as well as worked hard and created all the luck they get. With children it’s adults who need to help create opportunities for them to learn vital life skills. The more opportunity they have, the more they can learn. So that’s something worth thinking about; how much opportunity do you create for your child to learn the skills of Emotional Intelligence? Remember, it is mainly through “error” that they’ll learn – so embrace it and help them to learn! The novelist Edward Docx recalls in an article that being one of seven children gave him a clear advantage to learning the skills of Emotional Intelligence. This makes sense because the more people there are in one’s home environment the more practised you are at dealing with emotions and the sharper you naturally have to become in order for harmony to be maintained. 🙂
If a child’s emotional needs are not met appropriately then they are not given the opportunity, or experience to learn how to manage their feelings effectively. This is more likely to happen to children who experience a lot off “stress” in their lives because stress diverts focus to the “self” and prevents people from being more aware of how they’re feeling and coming across to others. It takes Extreme Awareness to grow in Emotional Intelligence when you’re experiencing a lot of stress. For the reasons stated earlier in the article I went through a stage in my teens of being more introspective because I felt almost “suffocatingly” self-aware and concern about how I was coming across to others. The very interesting factor here is that it made me more introspective; as soon as I realised that I was spending more time focused on myself and not actually showing much awareness of others people’s feelings my “perceived problems” disappeared and I was able to start being more altruistic and my Emotional Intelligence increased. 🙂
Children’s inborn temperament and natural ability to learn would play an obvious factor. What I would like to point out here first, is that nurturing Emotional Intelligence will definitely help children of a “less agreeable” disposition to learn enough of the skills to be more success in life than they would be had the skills not been encouraged. Second, it’s definitely not a “given” pattern that the higher one’s IQ, the more naturally Emotionally Intelligent they’ll be. There’s a vague connection between the two; often very highly intelligent people can actually lack Emotional Intelligence. They’re brain is more wired to their individual goals – not to the feelings of others. Often someone we may describe as “streetwise” or “savvy” is very Socially and Emotionally Intelligent; it’s what helps them make strewed decisions. 🙂
Cultural influences can either encourage, or discourage the development of Emotional Intelligence; it takes real honesty to reflect on this in a “truth-seeking” way (very difficult for most). Obviously the more Emotionally Intelligent you are as a parent, the bigger advantage you’re giving your child/ children to learn the skills. It’s also an opportunity for you to honestly consider whether there’s “room for improvement” in your own skills to provide your child/ children with the best opportunity to learn them. Trust me, you will feel so good about yourself if you start to achieve more at work and create a better relationships with your family/ friends just from choosing to be more honest with yourself about nurturing the skills of Emotional Intelligence. When you see the difference it makes for your child/ children, you will be so glad you had the courage to be honest. 🙂
I would just like to touch on how Emotional Intelligence supports all other areas of development. With physical development, a child who is more stable within themselves will be calmer and thus able to do more focused activities with you that promote their fine-motor development, (including writing). Emotionally Intelligent children are also more likely to have more friends as they are more likeable and that attracts more people to them. The more friends you have, the more activities you’ll be invited to do with others. Emotional Intelligence supports intellectual development because the child is stable and able to focus on learning and not on other “worries”/ “distractions”. I had to learn all my EQ skills; it’s not that I didn’t have the capacity to learn them, more that I was distracted by feelings of inadequacy that initially prevented me from moving forward in this area. The more you learn about anything, the more vocabulary you’re likely to learn, thus supporting language development. Finally, a person able to understand and “read” other people’s feelings better is going to have a greater understanding of where they “fit in” to the “bigger picture” of life, hence nurturing spiritual development also. 🙂
There are actually five different categories of Emotional Intelligence; all really important for holistic success in life. These are outlined by www.psychcentral.com/lib and are as follows:
- Self-Awareness – The ability to recognise one’s own emotions as they happen is the key to an individual’s EQ. If you’re able to identify your emotions then you’re obviously able to “manage” them. The two major components of Self-Awareness are; Emotional-Awareness – The ability to recognise your emotions and the effects they have on others around you. Plus, Self-Confidence – How sure you are about your own self-worth and your capabilities – that for me includes your present capabilities and the ones you can potentially learn. This is something that I have really had to work hard at and learn. The Relationship Expert Christian Carter on his programme “Natural and Lasting Attraction” puts forward that the most successful people he knows are the ones who have “done a lot of work on themselves and gotten to know themselves well”. This is because these types of people put themselves in a position where they can recognise first how they feel and second, what is likely to put them in a negative emotional state so they can avoid it; remember what I put forward about recognising triggers? Interestingly it’s often certain people that trigger negative emotions and it’s easy to be “dragged” into their negative cycle unless you’re self-aware enough to notice what’s happening. So Emotionally Intelligent people will avoid as far as possible people who tend to trigger negative emotions in them. On the “flipside”; when you can recognise what, or who makes you feel especially good, you can do more of it and seek out the company of those individuals – you create that choice for yourself. 🙂
- Self-Regulation – This refers to one’s ability to control their emotions. We can’t always choose what emotions we feel however we can exert more control over how long they last. Your mind and body are connected and one way of changing your internal state to be more positive is by consciously adopting a positive body–language stance for a few minutes, plus if you think of something that you know made you feel good you can soon turn your feeling around. Good self-control necessitates a highly increased level of consciousness, hence why very small children are not at a level where this is yet possible for them. Also your ability to be able to adapt to different situations helps with self-control. If you’re flexible and able to adapt yourself well then you are less likely to feel discomfort about change. According to Relationship Expert Christian Carter; very “masculine men” actively “go for” women with a high EQ, because “knowing what you’re going to get” from someone emotionally is far more attractive. 🙂
- Motivation – In relation to Emotional Intelligence this simply refers to one’s ability to motivate oneself to achieve their goals within life. People who are able to do this do not allow their emotions to “get in the way”. This doesn’t mean that they don’t feel emotions; it simply means that they are “practised” at recognising and reframing them – consciously turning them around to be more positive. This takes what psychcentral.com/lib refer to as “Achievement Drive” plus initiative and optimism. Achievement drive is how committed you are to a standard of excellence. Initiative is one’s readiness to take action when opportunity presents itself and optimism is not allowing any obstacles to hold one back from achieving anything. 🙂
- Empathy – Is the ability to recognise how other people feel from their point of view. An Emotionally Intelligent person recognises that this doesn’t mean that they have to agree with the other person; just simply to recognise how they feel. A person able to recognise the feelings behind the Body Language signals of others is in a better position to control the signals they relay to others. According to psychcentral.com/lib a person with a high ability to empathise is good a positions of service where they are required to meet the needs of clients. They are also good at understanding others, helping develop their capabilities, and leveraging diversity. The late Princess Diana was very good at this. 🙂
- Social Skills – It’s obvious that a person able to recognise the emotional needs of others is going to have advance social skills. Interpersonal or “People Skills” as psychcentral.com/lib point out are especially important in today’s World where advanced technology enables us to interact and negotiate with others on a Global Level. 🙂
This makes it clear exactly how important Emotional Intelligence is to the success of your whole “Family Team”. It also demonstrates how it supports success on several different levels; how you all get on within the “Family Team”, Your, “Mum and Dad’s”, relationship with each other and how successful you both (Mum and Dad) are in the workplace. Believe me; you are most likely to be more success as a parent if you’re experiencing success at work. People who struggle at work and are not happy will, if not aware, pass that on in their interactions within the “Family Team”. 🙂
I can already hear you say; “this is all really good; so how do I encourage Emotional Intelligence in my children?” The best way to encourage children to handle their emotions well is first to help them learn that it’s ok to feel any emotion; it’s what you do with it that counts. This naturally teaches them that they have a choice and gives them the responsibility to choose wisely. I feel it’s very important to put forward here that children absolutely Need to experience every emotion in order to learn how to deal with them effectively. If you always “intercept” and actively shelter your children from negative feelings by either glossing over them, or trying to make them laugh when their sad; how can you expect them to be able to learn how to deal with them?? From a learning perspective a few negative experiences growing up are actually account to a positive contribution to the overall outcome of your child’s capabilities. This necessitates the ability to embrace “error” and learn through one’s mistakes. On Instagram one popular personal development quote is; “A calm sea doesn’t create a good sailor”. A metaphor basically putting forward that an easy life doesn’t create a capable/strong individual. You have to allow children to experience situations that will help build their Emotional Intelligence. The best way of supporting them here is to guide them through; be a “Lighthouse”, not a “Tow truck”! 🙂
When children can accept their feelings and start to understand the link between feelings and behaviour then they are in a much better position to learn to handle them more appropriately. So encourage your children to pay-attention to how they feel and how they respond to various emotions. I believe that “Expectation” and “Awareness” are the key to helping your child/ children learn how to make Emotionally Intelligent choices. If you expect children to become aware of their feelings and the effects of how they deal with them on other people, then you enable them to notice sooner when their responses can have a more negative impact and thus help them to make a better choice. If you, as the adult, pay attention to how your children are feeling and the triggers to their emotions then you can help them more effectively to recognise their feelings and learn for themselves how to deal with them. 🙂
Behaviour boundaries that are a form of expectation enable children to become aware that going beyond a certain level of behaviour is unacceptable and gives them the responsibility to make a good choice. Children definitely subconsciously know the level of behaviour that each adult expects of them and they (generally) behave within the boundaries of the individual adult. So if you feel your children are not showing much awareness of how their behaviour is affecting you or others around them, it’s most likely because you’re not setting clear boundaries of behaviour expectation. If you find it difficult to give your children behaviour boundaries look at it this way; when you become aware of the fact that you can actually choose how to deal with your emotions, then you are more liberated because you have a choice. There is no choice when lack of awareness causes you to allow your emotions to take over and effectively choose for you. 🙂
Another point I would like to make is that as the Leaders of the “Family Team” it is your responsibility (Mum and Dad) to keep things moving. This to me necessitate that things have to go your way sometimes too. Think about it; if children constantly have “their way”, which believe me I’ve heard/ read about, then how on Earth do you expect them to learn how to consider the needs of others. Your needs are important too and if your to keep things “rolling” effectively for the whole “Family Team”, then certain things must go your way too. To do this effectively take a little sensitivity and a brief explanation to your child/ children as to why things are happening a certain way. Children are far more likely to co-operate when they feel “kept in the loop”! 🙂
Whilst writing this article I couldn’t help but think to myself of people I knew with Emotional Intelligence and people who appear to lack it! It began to dawn on me that a fair few people I knew who definitely show the capacity for a good level of Emotional Intelligence in a lot of situations, seemed to lack it in others. What I began to realise was that they showed Emotional Intelligence with some people and not with others. This helped me to realise that it’s a choice. If you have the capacity for a fairly good level of Emotional Intelligence, then it’s a choice whether you choose to use it, or not. When an individual chooses not to use it with some people they are subconsciously communicating that that person’s feelings don’t matter so much to them. Let’s be honest here and say that this is also a choice bullies choose to make and often in a more extreme way. What I find “nonsensical” here is that they are actually also giving the subconscious message that they feel threatened in some way by the person they “pick on”. To make themselves feel better, they “belittle” the perceived threat. Think about it; you wouldn’t bother unless on some level – conscious or subconscious – it was in some way important to you. Bullying is a reflection of one’s own insecurities. – Can you see what message you’re (any bully) relaying?? Bullying also demonstrates that no matter how much Emotional Intelligence “the bully” may show in other situations “the bully” lacks the really high level of people with the most EQ. This is because people with the highest levels of Emotional Intelligence are first too busy being successful to bother putting down anyone else. Second they are confident enough in their own capabilities not to feel threatened by anyone else. Third Emotionally Intelligent people don’t judge others, because they understand on a deeper level that there is more going on “behind” a person’s choices to what you see on the surface and they choose to help, not judge. They also don’t boast, because they have no need to; their success does the talking. Finally if you think about it; the hardest thing to do is show Emotional Intelligence with someone you don’t like. It’s precisely this ability that is what separates out the people with the highest EQ above others. If it’s not obvious who you don’t like then you are capable of extremely high levels of empathy and self-control. This is probably social skills at their highest level; imagine what the World would be like if everyone endeavoured to reach this achievement?? 🙂
In conclusion I would say that writing this article has given me an even greater insight into Emotional Intelligence and just how much it contributes to holistic success. Anyone wanting to get ahead in life and give their children a huge advantage would be wise to focus on EQ as much, if not slightly more than IQ – The more Emotionally Intelligent you are, the more stable and thus less distracted and better able you are to focus on any academic or other goal(s). Wikipedia supports this as it puts forwards that people with high “EQ have better mental health, job performance and leadership skills”. Doctor Travis Bradberry is, in my mind, the leading authority, so hence the best person to look up if you want to become more “clued up” on Emotional Intelligence.
For more information please email me at: [email protected] or message me through Twitter/ Instagram @FamilyTeamCoach or on Facebook/ LinkedIn at Paula-Elizabeth Jordan, thank-you.
Paula-Elizabeth Jordan is a Montessori trained Child-Development Expert who’s passionate about helping “Family Teams” work together for the benefit of each other, as this is how successful, well-balanced, happy children are raised. She has been Montessori trained for over ten years now and also has a degree in Theology with an Art minor. She is presently writing her own book entitled; “How to Bring up A Successful Human-Being”. www.paulaelizabeth.com