Daniel Goleman, the behavioural psychologist who studied emotional intelligence for decades and popularized emotional intelligence assessment tools, wrote in his pioneering book, “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ” that emotional quotient is far more important for success than academic performance or other intelligence quotient indicators. We all even know people like that, who barely scraped the bottom of the class with their grades but topped it in life.
Luckily, like everything else, emotional intelligence can be honed and sharpened by constant practice and deliberate focus.
Except that there aren’t many tools around us that help us do that consciously.
Think about the last parent-teachers’ meeting you attended. Or recall a conversation you had with another parent about his child’s progress. Chances are, they would have centred around their latest test scores – “She scored 98% on her board finals” or an achievement – “He got into the junior sports team!’ or some behavioural issues, “His homework is regularly incomplete.” And, oh! We have come to dread downtime for our children.
However, there is just one little problem. Focusing on achievements or issues without stressing on emotional health, awareness or readiness can have very undesirable results. Psychologists studying the rise and rise of adolescent depression and suicide all point to one common factor: the lack of emotional awareness.
When I got an invite to review Kaleidoscope 360, an emotional intelligence assessment tool for children, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did a trial run with my own daughter, and the results were fantastic.
Designed specifically for children between ages 8-18, Kaleidoscope 360 is perhaps the world’s first emotional intelligence assessment tool of its kind to help people understand children and young adults better- which is what emotional intelligence is all about. Once you sign up, the tool lets you invite the most important people in a child’s life – parents, siblings, teachers, grandparents- together to share their views about the strengths of the child in, not school subjects- but key life genres. But what I loved most was that the child gets an opportunity to assess herself in these areas.
Kaleidoscope came into being when 3 people – Ishwarya Ahmed, Konrad Fernandez and Jagannatha Rao began to ask some defining questions around today’s children, that came about as a result of a combined rich background in behavioural learning, strategy and psychology.
When you first sign up for the tool, you are prompted to think of the people closest to the child and invite them to provide their thoughts about the child. I was met with a set of 38 questions- ranging from the core strengths of the child to their preparedness to deal with a disappointment. The tool is refreshing in that it moves away from the ‘worksheet’ format and focuses on some interesting aspects of growing up.
Here’s Ishwarya, on how the idea was triggered, “ We began by asking some interesting what-if questions: What if parents and children could come together in sync in one platform and express thoughts? What if children and parents got to write surprise notes for each other (like a slam book)? What if teachers, mentors, friends, grandparents gave their thoughts to the child in one format? What if expressions got captured and collated into valuable information that will help the child make decisions? And if this all could be simple, automated and elegant?”
Kaleidoscope 360 has a ton of research gone into the development itself, by putting together hundreds of possible questions around several areas of a child’s life, which then filtered down to just 5 key life genres – Values, Dreams, Actions, Character and Life Path. In all, it’s just over 30 questions. The first version of the product is the essence of tons of feedback from child development experts through focus group discussions.
The result is an automated report that offers insights to the child, parents and teachers on important aspects of the child’s life. It gives parents a picture of their child that includes a non-judgmental, non-academic and deeper understanding. I think the keywords here are non-judgemental and non-academic. I particularly loved their purpose statement:
Here’s a sample assessment report( my daughter’s):
Here’s Ishwarya on their findings from research:
A lot of research already shows the huge gaps in families and society that lead to challenges in the child’s personal growth and development. For instance, research shows that for children it’s harder to stay close to parents as they get older. About 20% of younger children and 33% of older children said they argued “a lot” with their parents. That’s 1 out of every 5 children in the 8–11 age group and 1 in every 3 children for the 12–14 age group. Almost three quarters (75%) of younger children felt their parents were proud of them. But that number dropped to 58% for the older children. Significant among other insights were how aspects about why children grow distant, develop anxieties, harbor conflict, develop low self-esteem and invariably give in to bad company, bad habits and disruptive behavior. So with this, the need for a “coming together” became very clear – the need for a platform to focus on the child, make them the center, demonstrate love through this exercise, give them the attention they need, listen to the unheard voice of the child in a structured way, share views, gather the views of those who know the child well and care enough, put all this together and look at insights on what emerges, look at areas of alignment and examine areas of disconnect in perception.”
Sure enough, Kaleidoscope 360 has specific parts in it which is meant to unravel some unspoken messages. When my daughter was filling out the questions, we had several conversations that were unlikely to happen otherwise. For example, the tool made her think of a time she was proud of herself.(Usually, it’s all about making someone else proud.) She was also gently guided into digging deeper into her values and aspirations and of occasions where she stuck to them in her short life so far.
The tool has a way of capturing the unheard voices and consolidates them into a slam book- from parents, teachers- and – grandparents!( I thought this was particularly fun, because which grandparent doesn’t enjoy leaving tons of love messages for their grandchild?)
Kaleidoscope 360 will certainly have a lasting impact on the way we parent and teach our kids because the messages from the report leave lingering thoughts and remind parents and teachers about sensitive aspects and help emotionally bond with the child. It is hardly surprising that hundreds of children are already trying the tool and checking it out; many schools have taken this up as a pilot project.
From my experience with Kaleidoscope, I think there might be a few limitations:
When I gave my feedback to the team, they assured me that they are working on improvements in the upcoming version!
So, why not? Don’t we really need these conversation starters?
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Devishobha is the founder of Kidskintha- an online parenting resource repository dedicated to jumpstarting conversations around millennial parenting, encouraging parents to bring their attention to words, thoughts and actions that will enable them to raise a well-rounded, empathic and motivated generation. You can also find her on the Huffington Post, Parent.co, Entrepreneur, Lifehack, TinyBuddha and many other publications.