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Emotional Intelligence — Improve Your Child’s Chance for a Successful, Satisfying Life

By Eileen Healy, MA, LMFT

If you want to give your child a future filled with Successes:

Why is Raising Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence So Important to be part of a Homeschoolers curriculum?
Why is it so important to raise your child’s Emotional Intelligence?
Why is it so important to incorporate a Social and Emotional Intelligence component into your homeschool program?

Research over the last seventeen years consistently states that more than I.O.,a high (emotional intelligence)EQ will determine a child’s success in life.

The great news is that a person’s emotional intelligence can be raised at anytime during a person’s life. So whether your child is four or fourteen it is time to begin the process of increasing his EQ, and the best way to do this while you are homeschooling is to teach his academic lessons within a framework of a Social-Emotional Learning Program. This way you will both have fun while everyone’s EQ increases.

So what is emotional intelligence?It is an individual’s ability, at any age, to recognize their emotions in response to everysituation, life event, and person they encounter and to respond to these emotions in a healthy and appropriate way? It is also an individual’s abilityto make a good assessment of what another person (again at any age) is feeling and to respond to those emotions in a healthily way so as not to hurt or damage the relationship or themselves. In addition, it is the ability — once the emotions are recognized and identified — to move into a problem-solving mode and make a good decision regarding the situationor person that may be causing stress. Individuals and especially children and adolescents who have a high emotional intelligencedo not become overwhelmed by life. In general they have a high self-acceptance, and they have strong social skills. They are
better able to stay focused on the project or task in front of them, even when disappointment happens. High EQ individuals know how to recognize, process and manage their emotions.

So what does high and low EQ look like? An example would be you are sitting with eight-year-old daughter, Ella and your ten-year-old son, Jack. They are each working on their math packet for the day. Your home is peaceful. The sun is shining outside. The world is good and you feel God’s presence.

Suddenly the ring of the telephone disturbs the silence. You know better than to answer it while your children are workingon their math unit. You answer the phone call and walk into the kitchen. It is your sister asking if you wantto give your children a day off and go to the beach for a couple of hours. She points out that it’s a beautiful day, you homeschool; you can make it up tomorrow. You are tempted for a minute, but it has taken a while to set up the schedule with your children that is really effective and you don’t want to send the message that just because it is a beautiful day you cannot blow off the schedule and go to the beach.Your sister tries to convince you for a few minutes and then she gives up. You hang up the phone feeling proud of yourself. If a play day had been planned that would have been different, but if you are homeschooling it’s real schooland you can’t just take a day off because the sun is shining.

You go back into the dining room to see both of your children looking up at you smiling. “What?” you ask them. “Are we going to the beach? Please, Please, Please?” No we are not going to the beach. We have our school work to do!” Jack immediately says (not in a nice tone of voice) “That’s not fair. You said if we homeschool we would have flexibility and we could play every once in a while. I think today is a perfect day for playing. Besides I can’t focus now. All I can think about is the beach!” Before you can even answer Jack, Ella chimes in, “Please, Please, Please mom!” Your quiet peaceful day is shattered. You actually feel tempted to go to the beach but again what message would you be sending your children? If they were in a classroom in the local school they couldn’t just blow off the school day to go to the beach. Your self-talk is saying, “No I can’t change my mind. The message sent would be the wrong message. No beach today. We will plan a day at the beach, but not today”.

So Mom says, “No I am sorry but we won’t be going to the beach today. Now let’s get back to work;what page are you on Jack?” “I’m not on any page; I quit! I’m not doing my work today! I want to go to the beach. You are so mean! I hate homeschooling!!”He sits and crossed his arms in a huff.

You look at Jack like he has just lost his mind. Ella also looks at Jack like he has lost his mind. Ella is clearly disappointed too,but she goes back to doing her math work.

You sit there and wonder what just happened? As the afternoon goes on Ella completes her work and goes outside to play with neighborhood children. Jack, on the other hand, refused to do any of his work for the rest of the afternoon. His reaction to his disappointment doesn’t surprise you, but it frustrates you. Jack has always had a pattern of shutting down, and becoming upset and resistant to anything you say after he hears the word “NO!”

What explains Jack’s upset and shut down behavior versus Ella’s momentary upset and then her ability to shift to a state of problem-solving and responsibility?

There is actually a simple explanation. Jack’s emotions overtook his cognitive ability to process this situation and then continue to control his reaction throughout the afternoon. He was experiencing low emotional intelligence. Ella’s emotions immediately whooshed up as mom said “No” to the beach today, but in Ella’s case her emotions did not overtake her ability to respond cognitively to the situation. She has learned that when mom says “No”oneday to a good idea she often says yes sometime during the next week. Ella knows they will probably go to the beach sometime in the very near future. Ella responded with high emotional intelligence.

So what does this mean to you the homeschooling parent? It means that if you are willing to create a social-emotional learning program (SEL) environment you will be giving your child the best opportunity to succeed both in his/her life academics as wellas in life.

I know that as a homeschooling parent you want the best for your child or you would never take on the wonderful, complex challenging job of educating your own child(ren). I know that you have taken on this challenge because you want your children to receive the best education possible in a safe environment and I know you believe in yourself as well as question yourself everyday because you are only human and you love your children. I taught all three of our children at one time during their elementary years. It was on of the most challenging and rewarding things I have done.

The United States Congress, the U.S. Department of Education and the number of individual state Departments of Education are becoming increasingly interested in including emotional intelligence because there has been a Bill (HR 3724) drafted and presented in committees in the House of Representatives that would require all public pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, elementary and high schools throughout the United States to initiate a Social-Emotional Learning Program (SEL) within their curriculum.There has been a great deal of research presented to Congress, which has explored the effects of social-emotional learning academic curriculum competencies of children pre-k through high school throughout the United States. The research shows a direct correlation to students achieving higher academic success in schools with a social-emotional learning program.

The average student in a SEL Program throughout the U.S. shows an 11% academic increase. Schools which incorporate a SEL Program throughout their days, show upward from a 27% to a 49% increase in their academic success (Action Research, Anna Kearney, MA, Six Seconds, 10/16/11).

Most important in my mind is the research that has consistently found over the last seventeen years that a high EQ is the key to a strong emotional health at any age. A strong emotional health is the best predictor of a child’s well being in life, influencing his or her success in academics, relationships with family and friends, and the ability to make healthy decisions.

Let’s take a look at four easy steps you can begin with today to increase your children’s and your family’s emotional intelligence:

1. Practice recognizing your own emotions. It will be easier to talk with your children about their emotions if you are comfortable talking about your own emotions. For a little extra help with this step go to our website
2. Begin to verbalize your emotions in front of your children. Encourage your co-parent to do the same.
3. After a week or two, ask your children to help you make up a Feelings Vocabulary List. Use one handout as a guide. Post your list and make copies for everyone.
4. Everyday or once a week, choose one to three emotions which everyone is going to be aware of whether they personally feel it or they observe someone else feeling it.

Choose a time in the evening (dinnertime, quiet time before bedtime or make a special EW sharing time). Remember this is a sharing time. There are no wrong answers. Everyone gets a turn and the only rule is “no put-downs” for whatever is shared.

The goals of these first four EQ skillbuilding exercises are for you and your child to become comfortable talking about emotions. If you are willing to do these four steps of raising your children’s emotional intelligence you can easily begin these steps with three-year-olds.

Let’s return to Jack and Ella to see how the day might have gone differently if their family had been working on increasing their emotional intelligence.

The phone call came from Aunt Kathie. The children’s hope of going to the beach became exciting. Then Mom said “No, not today”, Ella and Jack would both have still emotionally reacted with disappointment and upset. Ella, because of her natural temperament and personality, probably would have been upset, disappointed but there is a good chance she would have heard the words “Not Today”. This thought would have moved her into problem-solving made which is an important component of a high EQ. She might have said to herself, “Mom said ‘No’ today, but she might say ‘Yes’ for tomorrow. So don’t argue with her; it will make things worse.” Jack, on the other hand, because of his natural temperament and personality would probably have still reacted pretty intensely but mom would have known what to do in response to Jack. So let’s take a look at a very common response in a high EQ family:
• Jack, “ That’s not fair! I hate homeschooling. I want to go to the beach”!
• Mom, “Jack you sound really disappointed, upset, and maybe a little angry”!
• Jack, “Not a little angry but both angry and disappointed”!
• Mom. “Well, the answer to the beach for today is still no, but let’s talk about a plan that makes us all feel better. What do you think?”
• Jack, “We could get through all of our work this morning and then go to the beach this afternoon”.
• Mom, “Wells that’s one plan. Another plan could be that I will check my weather application on my computer (phone) and see what the weather forecast is for tomorrow and Friday. If it is going to be a nice day, we can go for the whole day”.
• Jack, “ Well, I rather go today, but that sounds like a good plan. Can Aunt Kathie still some with us?” Mom, “If you are ready to get back to your math packet work, I will check this weather for the rest of the week and then call Auntie Kathie”. Jack, “Okay Mom that’s a good plan”.

Raising a child’s EQ doesn’t means changing their personality, but it will definitely help calm intense temperaments, allowing a child who would normally be overwhelmed by their emotions resulting from disappointment and who normally shuts down for hours, to be able recognize their emotions, manage their emotions and move into problem-solving so they can feel better. Jack most likely would have finished his work and gone out to play. Life would feel good again.E.H.


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