Hina Khan Palwasha
It was Wednesday, a seven-year-old Zarghuna went to Ayesha, a girl with special needs, to share her birthday treats and a piece of cake. She offered her a little toy which she got from her parents a night before. She had long noticed that none of their fellows ever sat next to the girl, who was often disruptive. Zarghuna’s plan worked—the distraction helped her fellow stay calm and open up, says their teacher. “It was her self-generated idea and things turned out pretty well on her side. Zarghuna is always in tune with her fellow’s emotions.” She commented.
The reason that Zarghuna behaved this way was due to her high emotional intelligence quotient, a skill set that some experts and educators claim matters more than child’s intelligence quotient.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman who first came with the idea of Emotional Intelligence in 1995, suggests that only 20% of the life success factors are determined by IQ, while there is pretty good margin of other forces as well like nature, nurture, family education and above all EQ. While it’s good to strengthen your child’s academics with reasoning, critical thinking, memory, and verbal comprehension, it’s also equally important to round them out with emotional skills such as empathy, gratitude, perseverance, motivation, impulse control and the ability to delay gratification.
While high IQ only helps a child to maintain good academics, a good EQ will help him succeed in relationships, health, aesthetics and other key areas, finally improving her overall quality of life. Teachers report that high-EQ students tend to make better leaders in the classroom, they are initiative takers and tend to get along with other students easily.A child with a high EQ handles complex social situations effectively and due to her ability to empathize with peers, she builds meaningful friendships, in part.
But, when we talk about Emotional Intelligence, it’s not just empathy. It involves a child’s ability to label, regulate and control her own emotions as well as reactions to them; for example, instead of expressing her anger through throwing things against the wall, she would rather think of ways to defuse her feelings and verbalize her emotions. As the child progress towards her adulthood, EQ becomes more associated with self-regulation, internal motivation, decision making, coping and problem solving strategies.
When it comes to measuring the EQ in a child, unlike IQ tests which assess the cognitive abilities through reading comprehension and retention, vocabulary, reasoning and math skills, EQ tests emotional literacy, empathy, intrinsic motivation and navigations of emotions. Like IQ scores, EQ has its standards, score of 100 is average; 115 is above-average and 85 and below indicate some challenges. But the good news is that unlike IQ, which is static, EQ can be developed and increased which needs explicit teaching and practice. In order to promote EQ in children, schools should design progressive approaches to emotional learning especially for the children who are struggling emotionally and socially. It would clearly determine which skills need to work on.
However, the key modelling of EQ begins at home right at the time of infancy when parent must teach their child to understand their feelings and put words to them rather than acting out. Age two to five is the peak time when physical aggression begins. They hit, grab and bite, lacking the language to express themselves adequately. Here lies the opportunity for the parents to coach them on naming those feelings by playing with them or moderating their play with meaning full lessons.
But the key requirement is that parent has better EQ himself and has good degree of self-awareness. Only then can he guide the child well. For example, slowing down or making them less dismissive with comments like “Don’t be sad” or “You’re fine,” or “suck it up” is the wrong approach. Parents often do that because they don’t know what to do with their child’s emotions, which are so raw and untainted that they want to flip the happy switch as quickly as possible. Instead, what they really have to do is to just sit with them, mirror and acknowledge their feelings, and ultimately coach them to fix their problems by themselves.
When it comes to the role of EQ in adulthood, especially in professional life, people with good degree are not only able to do their work effectively and efficiently but they are also equipped to read their workplace environment, get along with their peers, collaborate and solve problems.
With today’s top companies like Google, American Express, and FedEx—testing the EQ of applicants shows a pretty huge shift in thinking trends, and it’s all reason,we must continue to nurture our child’s emotional intelligence as well. Their EQ—together with their IQ—can pave a way to future success in all aspects of their life.