Bibhu Thapaliya Shrestha

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Published On: December 23, 2017 08:23 AM NPT By: Bibhu Thapaliya Shrestha

Need for emotionally intelligent children

A famous psychologist and a relationship expert, John Gottman in his book ‘Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child’ states that more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships.

In our personal and professional lives, we often meet people who cannot properly manage their emotions; their untimely outburst of emotions makes you uncomfortable and their irrational and impatient decisions make you suffer. Sometimes it’s you who act likewise.

 Many of us have ruined some of our personal or professional relationships due to lack of proper skills of handling our emotions. It must have happened a lot of times that even though our intentions are right; we are misunderstood because of an inappropriate display of our emotions. 

Why are we not being able to manage and express our emotions in an ideal way? Why do we fail in effective communication? The answers lie in the techniques that were used on us to handle our emotions when we were small children unaware of how it could shape our personality as adults. 

Children are innocent creatures who express their emotions without any filter. They throw tantrums when they are angry, they simply cry when their demand is unfulfilled. They are also more vocal and expressive both verbally and non-verbally about the things they like or dislike. In problematic situations of emotional outburst of our children, we tend to fix their negative emotions quickly by bribing them with something (for example chocolates and toys) or punishing them. But is it the right method? No. 

Studies say that we can regulate their emotions in more productive ways. Not listening to what they are actually trying to convey can lead to passive-aggressive behavior displayed by the children in long run. We have to ask ourselves the fundamental question, “Being grown up adults, if we cannot control emotional outbursts, how can we expect the children to do so? Are we handling the situation better by punishing them?” The answer to the very fundamental question is a big ‘no’.

One has to be able to identify the emotions in the first place in order to manage them. Therefore, the key to identifying children’s emotion lies in acknowledging those emotions in the first place. It is better if we let them experience the negative feelings and help them resolve it. 

For example; try saying “Oh, you are so angry, I understand your situation. Is it because you didn’t get to play with your friends?” Instead of punishing, if we start interacting with them and talking about their feelings, they will learn how to manage their emotions eventually. By doing this, we are also teaching them the essential human trait -- empathy. But does that mean we have to let them do whatever they want, even if it means harm? No. As Gottman says, it’s important to set limits on harmful behaviors. For example, try saying, “I understand you are jealous but it is not okay to hit your friend. Can you just try talking about it with me from next time instead of hitting?”

Raising emotionally intelligent children does not only require managing the negative emotions but also being appreciative of their positive emotions, such as responding positively to their curiosities, appreciating their achievements no matter how minimal they are,  allowing them to laugh out loud when they are happy. 

Since home is the first school of a child, parents can play the most effective role in doing so. Authors who happen to be experts in psychology globally in their books and different researchers of early childhood in their findings infer that emotional intelligence can be constructed within the children under age five. UN Convention on Rights of the Child has also recognized family’s role as a crucial factor in a child’s overall development.

Parenting is not an easy task. It takes a lot of patience, proper skills and good sense of responsibility to start with. Being a new mother, I can relate with the hardships one has to go through on a daily basis. You are on an emotional roller coaster with postpartum hormones. Reading lots of parenting stuff online seems helpful but things are easier being said than done. 

Your baby is a tiny bipolar creature whose emotions change every now and then. You barely can control your emotions due to continuous sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion, let alone training your child to do so. After all, who said parenting was going to be easy? Therefore, one has to try. 

William Wordsworth’s beautiful expression, “Child is the father of man”, in its generalized meaning suggests whatever we experience and learn in our childhood becomes the part of us which we carry throughout our lives. In this regard, by raising an emotionally intelligent child, we are contributing in the making of a compassionate and responsible, emotionally balanced individual who can think and act rationally, manage her/his relationships (inter-personal and professional) and take appropriate decisions which will gradually guide her/him towards the ultimate success. 

An emotionally intelligent person is a happy person as s/he does not get easily offended, does not hold grudges, empathizes with people, makes clear communication and takes rational decisions. Decisions taken in good mood and calm mind prove to be the best ones. It is my strong belief that a happy person can keep her/his surrounding happy. Just bringing the new lives in this planet might not be enough. We want more happy people in this world full of hatred, war and sorrow. 

One of the ways to minimize it can be raising emotionally intelligent and happy children. So, why don’t we do our part as parents and responsible individuals as we owe it to the society and humankind? 

Bibhu is a development worker and a researcher.

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