September 2013 Archives


EQ - emotional intelligence - can be defined according to four parameters: how to name and manage feelings; how to solve conflicts successfully and non-violently; how to make friends and maintain relationships; how to be optimistic and bounce back from hardships.

Many of us know individuals with lots of IQ - cognitive intelligence of a verbal or mathematical or spatial nature - and very little EQ. These individuals often can be quite successful in their fields of expertise yet very challenged by the "stupid life stuff" that makes up much of our lives.

John Dewey, a pioneer in American education theory, felt that the goal of education was to "build a new world." He also felt that schools should train students, not only in a future trade, but in "habits of mind" that lead to a more fulfilling life: an ability to think "outside the box" and a willingness to work with others and share ideas. That's where the EQ comes into play...

How can we help our children - and ourselves - to develop EQ?

1)    Be clear about naming feelings: develop a "feelings vocabulary" that goes beyond "I feel good" or "I feel bad." Use a chart on the refrigerator (there are many available on the Internet) that allows a child to point to how they feel.

2)  When a child shares a difficult feeling, do the following: a) pause; b) empathize ("That must be a challenge..."); c) pause; d) ask "what are you going to do about it?"; e) express confidence ("I am sure you can come up with a plan").

3)  Learn simple conflict resolution skills. Here' s a formula that might work well: "I feel _____________ when you __________________ because ________________. I would like __________________."

4)  Model what it means to be a good friend: mutual appreciation, honesty, loyalty, support in times of need, shared interests, and availability. Point out these traits when your children show you the ways in which they are already good friends.

EQ can be as important as IQ in school and in life. Quaker testimonies point to EQ in the development of a spiritual lifestyle with respect for all. Let's be sure to nurture one another as well develop our emotional intelligence skills.

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