Gone are the days when intelligence and skill levels solely determine whether our children will land the career choices they want.
Many corporations are now hiring people who rate highly on scales of “emotional intelligence,” as well as other measures. They have discovered that having skillful employees does not always get the job done.
Many workplace problems are related to poor interpersonal skills. Such interpersonal struggles lead to high stress levels and lowered productivity.
The concept of emotional intelligence emerged a few years ago from the work of Daniel Goleman in his book entitled, Emotional Intelligence and his second more readable volume, Working with Emotional Intelligence.
Goleman defines emotional intelligence as proficiency in the following areas: Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Motivation, Empathy (i.e., understanding the feelings and thoughts of others) and Social Skills. In less complicated times there were fewer people suffering deficits in these areas because life was simpler. People took the time to interact with friends and neighbours and learned social skills naturally.
Three authors have taken Goleman’s ideas and translated them into parenting strategies. Elias, Tobias and Friedlander have published, Emotionally Intelligent Parenting. They adjust Goleman’s concept ever so slightly and discuss in depth the following principles:
1. Be Aware of One’s Own Feelings and Those of Others
2. Show Empathy and Understand Others’ Points of View
3. Regulate and Cope Positively with Emotional and Behavioral Impulses
4. Be Positive Goal-Oriented and Plan-Oriented
5. Use Positive Social Skills in Handling Relationships
The authors share many helpful parenting ideas. One of my favorite sections had to do with humour. They talk about ways to strengthen laughter within the family, including posting jokes and sharing funny stories on a regular basis.
They also discuss Emotionally Intelligent Parenting travel tips including: Stop!; Reduce Speed— Sharp Curves; Information Ahead; Inspection Station; Toll Plaza Ahead; Yield: Four-Way Stop; Scenic Overlook and Last Service Station for 2,000 Miles.
Stop! means to set limits and to not do things for a child that she can do for herself (at least some of the time). Reduce Speed—Sharp Curves refers to slowing down and not getting too involved in activities and sports.
There is also a very helpful chapter entitled “How To Talk So Your Children Will Think.” Such principles as modeling proper behaviour, prompting and cuing previously learned skills, paraphrasing, open-ended questioning, the two-question rule and the Columbo technique are explained among others.
If you are hoping (and who isn’t) to raise a “self disciplined, responsible and socially skilled child” then this parent book is worth a look. Elias, Tobias and Friedlander have done a very nice job of translating the language of ‘emotional intelligence’ for the parent of today.