Guest Author - Paula Petrie
In a 1994 report on emotional literacy author Daniel Goleman wrote, "...in navigating our lives, it is our fears and envies, our rages and depressions, our worries and anxieties that steer us day to day.”
He stated, “the price we pay for our lack of emotional literacy is in failed marriages and troubled families, stunted social and work lives, deteriorating physical health and mental anguish and, as a society, in tragedies such as killings." - Funderstanding.com
Today, our schools are showing that many kids are lacking ability in emotional intelligence, and need better “EI” skills to navigate today's stressors. Emotional intelligence is now considered more important to a child’s success at school than IQ, the GPA or standardized test scores.
Why do our children need emotional intelligence to be successful at school? Research in brain-based learning shows that emotional health is fundamental to effective learning. And, understanding how to learn is an essential building block in a student's success at school.
It is commonly agreed that to become aware of the learning process children need to have confidence, curiosity, self-control, an ability to communicate, to be cooperative and deliberately trying to succeed, and to feel connected to the school community. Educators are now teaching kids EI skills at school to combat low self-esteem, early drug and alcohol use, and depression.
Exactly what is Emotional Intelligence? The term EI is made up of characteristics related to self-awareness and self-management; being able to recognize, evaluate, and cope with your own emotions. EI is also the ability to have empathy and perspective regarding another’s feelings and deal with groups of people in a respectful way. In other words, respecting how you and others feel, but not becoming so lost inside the emotion that it can no longer be balanced with reason. We need that balance for understanding.
EI is not mysterious, but it is complicated. The traits of EI are traits that we all value and hope to instill in our kids. However, through stresses delivered in the day to day, we don’t always lead by a great example, and through busy schedules we make assumptions that our kids already know how to deal with their emotions on their own.
I think the most overlooked obstacle in EI success tends to be, that to strengthen our emotional intelligence skills a healthy perspective must be supported and practiced, (or strived for) daily, for a lifetime.
This would all be easy if EI didn't involve so many emotions! Despite our best efforts, the darker side of emotion often gets the better of us and we perform in a less than stellar way. Sometimes, we become so knotted with emotion that it is hard to 'find' a noble perspective. And often, we are busy and devalue the importance of figuring things out. These are reasons that we must empower our kids with an understanding of, and skills to deal effectively with, their own emotional framework and the actions of others (including ourselves.) It is hugely important to mend emotional harm done to our children by our own attitudes or disconnectedness, for example.
Kids really need our help developing the courage to allow themselves to feel their own emotions, and to understand their feelings. Having healthy emotions requires a good support network of family and friends. But ultimately, our children need to navigate their own emotional torrents and assume responsibility for their own happiness. Emotional intelligence is said to be the predictor of future success.
Spinoza, a noted philosopher, put it this way, "...emotions, as affections of the soul, make the difference between the best and the worst lives, as they either increase the soul's power to act, or diminish that power.”
*Psychologist Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Emotional Intelligence," and "Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships."
*The research info is attributed to Daniel Goleman's book "Emotional Intelligence."