There isn’t a single parent that doesn’t want what’s best for their child. Watching them do well in school and getting that dream job is what parenting is all about. Or is it? As a society we’ve shifted our emphasis way too much onto academic success and way too little on raising loving, caring, kind humans that are strong in basic interpersonal skills. Emotional Intelligence is the answer.
As children, we all went through the same “assembly line.” Go to school, study hard, memorize information and take a test to determine how much data our brains were able to retain. This went on from the time we were tiny children all the way up until we entered early adulthood.
After all those years of “memorizing and regurgitating,” we were then tasked with preparing for the biggest test yet to determine how “successful” we were going to be in our careers – the SAT’s.
Those 3 simple letters made most of us weak in the knees.
“What happens if I don’t score high enough to get accepted into (fill in the college name)?”
“My parents will be so upset if I don’t get a scholarship.”
“What if my best friend scores higher than me and I look dumb?”
The amount of pressure parents place on their children to do well academically has become an epidemic in this country.
Why do I refer to this as an epidemic?
Because in our obsession to raise children that excel academically, we’ve totally neglected the necessity to raise children that also excel emotionally.
Here’s the thing with IQ; you’re pretty much stuck with what you’ve got. We’re all born with our level of intelligence. Can you take some prep courses and study hard to take the SAT and maybe increase your score by a few points?
Sure you can.
But unless you’re a wealthy movie star that can afford to pay someone to take a test on your kids’ behalf, your score isn’t going to fluctuate by too much.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we’re all kind of born either “smart” or “not smart.”
This is where things get very interesting.
For the longest time, it was thought that the kids who got the highest grades and graduated from the best schools would turn out to be the most successful.
There’s only one problem with that theory……it’s not accurate. And even assuming it was accurate, it would be linking “success” to a single variable assessment – if you’re “smart” you’ll get a “better job” which will make you “more money” and in turn make you “more successful.”
That would mean you’d be basing someone’s success solely off of their socioeconomic status, and that’s just crazy talk.
In addition to emphasizing the importance of academic success (which I’m not claiming should be totally disregarded), parents also need to teach their children basic human 101 skills that our educational system doesn’t provide.
I’m referring to emotional intelligence (EQ), and the really awesome thing about EQ is that unlike IQ, anyone can increase their level of emotional intelligence. The simplest definition of EQ is the ability to identify our emotions and understand the powerful effects those emotions have on others.
Our children (and many adults) need to learn how these effects on others should be used to inform and guide our behavior. Instead of focusing solely on passing tests and getting a high GPA, we need to help them develop an awareness of what they’re feeling, and an “emotional vocabulary” to express it.
At some point after stepping out of the security of the school system, they’re going to be put in an environment where emotional control will be the difference between success and failure. This is when they’ll need to understand that while all of their feelings are normal, not all of their actions to those same feelings are acceptable. Without development of sufficient self-awareness, they won’t possess the interpersonal skills necessary to be able to accept an opposing point of view.
This is a major problem with the current environment we live in today. We’ve become too “intoxicated in emotion”, which prevents us from processing information logically. Once someone disagrees with us, we automatically default to defense mechanisms and assumptions that the opposing person has ill intentions. This is very infrequently the case.
As parents, we need to start teaching our kids basic emotional intelligence skills so we can make certain they grow into loving, caring, well-adjusted adults that can help make this world a better place; regardless of their level of academic success.