Emotional Intelligence for your child’s future The “Future of Jobs” report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2018 listed Emotional Intelligence among the top 10 skills required for employees. The report also states that skills such as memory, writing, and math are declining in importance. The key reason behind this is that we are undergoing a fourth industrial revolution characterised by artificial intelligence and robotics. Studies estimate that 30% – 50% of current jobs will disappear or will be replaced by new jobs by the next decade due to the impact of automation. Some jobs, however, cannot be easily automated. An example is a nurse’s job, which is more than administering drugs because it is based on the emotion of care and compassion. In some jobs, creativity will be a sought-after skill, and for one to be creative, emotions such as curiosity and empathy are essential. As parents, we need to keep these technological developments in mind and raise children with emotional intelligence.
Education and Emotional Intelligence
Two years back, a video went viral on social media that showed doctors fighting in the operating theatre, eventually leading to a child’s death. Very often, we hear stories from Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, about techies involved in bizarre murders and suicides. When I discuss these headlines with others, I often hear, “How can educated people do this?” Well, that is a good question, but it is essential to investigate the phrase “being educated” a little further. Those doctors have learned medicine, and the techies have learned programming skills, but the common curriculum that they were missing is Emotional Intelligence.
Technical education and professional training are important, but they will not be complete or effective without emotional intelligence.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Two psychologists, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in 1990 describing it as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action”.
Daniel Goleman, during his role as a science reporter at The New York Times, became aware of Salovey and Mayer’s work, and this eventually led to his book, “Emotional Intelligence” in 1995. Ever since, the term has gained the attention of educators, business leaders, management consultants, students, and religious leaders alike. Today, emotional intelligence is widely recognised as an essential skill for an individual’s success in life.
Emotions during the parenting journey
After several months of anticipation, finally, our twins were born. We were at the beginning of a parental journey filled with hope, anxiety and several other emotions. Becoming parents was the proudest moment we had ever experienced, and we declared our new parental role to the whole world with confidence. Soon, reality hit, and we were not getting enough sleep for several weeks because the babies were crying in stereo at odd hours of the night. Out of exhaustion, we decided to search for a solution and found the idea of “Cry-it-out” or CIO. It is a method in which you let the baby cry without attending so that the baby will eventually settle and find the solution “independently.” This method had always been at the center of controversy, and there is an ongoing debate about its effectiveness. In our case, the CIO method failed miserably because we couldn’t ignore the babies crying for long because we were empathetic. To describe that experience, I can only describe it as a force that pushes you out of the bed to console your child. Emotions are the energy that moves us. In other words, we had decided to listen to our emotions and sacrificed our sleep rather than taking a more rational path.
Just like “Cry-it-out,” immunisation has become another controversial topic these days. In developed countries such as the U.S., anti-immunisation groups are growing in strength because of their lack of trust in governments, pharmaceutical, and medical institutions. At the time of vaccinating our twins, as parents, we were concerned and diligent about the possible negative consequences of skipping vaccinations. You could say we took a more rational path this time by trusting scientific and statistical evidence. Our logical reasoning was “What will happen to our kids if we don’t vaccinate?” which in turn triggered the emotions of care and anxiety. Interestingly, those parents who opposed vaccinations were asking, “What will happen to our kids if we vaccinate them?” because they thought it will result in “vaccination-injury” for their children. Thus, both the advocates and critics of immunisation were operating from the emotions of care and anxiety. This leads us to the conclusion that emotions per se are not good or bad; we need to look at them from a different perspective and see whether they serve the situation or do not serve the situation. These two examples also demonstrate how everything that we do and do not do in life are determined by our emotions.
Reacting versus Responding – The crux of Emotional Intelligence
The Stanford marshmallow experiments were a series of experiments conducted by Walter Mischel in the 1960s and ‘70s. In those experiments, children were given one marshmallow if they wanted to eat it immediately and promised a second marshmallow if they were willing to wait for 15 minutes without eating the first one. You can imagine how hard it must have been for the children to resist the temptation! In follow up studies, it was found that those children who had waited 15 minutes and received the second marshmallow scored higher in their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores and had lower Body Mass Index (BMI) later in their lives. This ability to defer gain of pleasure is also known as “delaying gratification.” The marshmallow experiment establishes the link between our achievements in life and our ability to respond to events logically rather than react to them impulsively. This ability to delay is at the core of developing one’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
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September - October 2019