I love my son, please don’t get me wrong. BUT, he is the worst friend. I see this dark side of him emerge every time he has a friend over to hang out. It doesn’t matter whether they are playing a board game, throwing a ball around, or feverishly playing their favorite video games. Somewhere, somehow, my son becomes a bossy, selfish person who refuses to let his friends choose the game or win. Some part of me understands these behaviors are a normal part of child development, but I am still concerned about his social and emotional intelligence.
Most people laugh it off and say I am worrying about nothing. However, they don’t realize the role a child’s socila and emotional intelligence, or EQ, factors into his ability to thrive and succeed in life. To put it into perspective, leading researchers and experts are finding that a child’s ability to be self-aware, make responsible decisions, and form relationships might just be the secret to success. Their research and studies are destroying the commonly held misconception that only the smartest people are the most successful.
For parents, this is eye-opening on many levels. We spend countless hours teaching kids essential life skills like how to count, read, and write. However, far too often, we overlook instructing our sons and daughters on how to recognize their feelings and process their emotions. Afterall, research has found that kids with high social and emotional intelligence typically earn better grades in school, graduate, and make healthier choices.
So, what parent wouldn’t want that for their own child?
Thankfully, we have the ability to help our kids continue to work on these skills. Here’s an infographic on all that I found useful in this endeavor.
It’s comforting to know that a person’s EQ is not set in stone and can be developed over time with guidance and patience. This is a blessing for parents like me because we can see a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel.
As for me, instead of banning all playdates, like I have been tempted to do more than once, I will keep working with my son to help him overcome his shortcomings so he can persevere and be a better friend.
Emma Gibson is a psychology PhD candidate at Jacksonville State University and is currently involved in researching and educating kids about emotional intelligence and the difference between EQ and Intelligence Quotient.