I remember asking my husband what two values he wants to see our son portray as an adult which will make him think that he’s done a good job as a parent. He had said – Hardworking and honest. My two values had been – Caring and respectful. It had really gladdened my heart that as parents we were thinking of similar direction of values for our son. Hopefully this will over the years translate into becoming a similar set of inputs and encouragement that he gets from us both.
This was some 4 years ago I think. Sometime last year while reading an article on yet another case of teen suicide, it struck me to re-visit our wishlist. Maybe its not enough for him to be honest and caring. Maybe he needs to learn empathy instead. What about developing a calm nature? Are any of these values going to be enough to ensure that he at least understands the repercussions of his actions before taking them?
This is how I concluded that more than anything else – my task as a mother is to ensure I make him emotionally intelligent. But how do I ensure EQ for him? What could potentially construe as learning steps for a then 4 year old towards walking in this path? He’s obviously too young to understand a lot of things. But then I thought, is he really that young? Aren’t there enough emotions in his life already which he needs to process, understand and maybe even portray?
So over the last year, here’s what I have been doing from my end to try and make him a little more emotionally intelligent (fingers and toes crossed of course!!)
- Everytime he refused to share or crib about some other child taking his toy, I reminded him of the many instances wherein he had played with other kids’ toys. I followed this up with asking him how he would feel if his friends refused to share their toys with him. Keeping it simple – will you feel good or bad? This was enough to make him pause and at least stop cribbing (immediate objective achieved!!!) and at times even play it back the next time it happened.
- If he laughs at something that the other kid has done wrongly, I usually let him laugh a bit and then remind him of something similar he had done earlier. Either he learns to laugh at himself too or stops laughing at others!
- This one I picked from his class teacher. At times its important to acknowledge mistakes made by adults – especially to kids. They need to know its ok to make mistakes and move on.
- They also need to know that adults are not Gods – they just have more experience of life J
- My son knows that his behaviour with guests at home or hosts whose homes we visit is under close scrutiny by his parents. We are almost anal about getting him to wish and greet each and every person when we meet and when we part from them. Good manners are a very superficial reflection of emotional intelligence – but they play a huge role over a period of time on our conduct and words we use with others around us.
- Every morning when we walk him over to his bus stop, all of us greet pretty much everyone we meet – starting with the building guards, the gardeners, elders walking the path, other school kids and their parents. With a smile. A smile in return is almost always guaranteed – usually preceded by a puzzled expression of course. He knows that a small gesture on his side can make someone else smile – even if its only for half a second.
- Politeness in conversation (vs aggressive or patronising) tone with the household help is another aspect we ensure. He knows that he will be hauled up if he tries acting rude or entitled with them. Him doing small errands around the house is a common sight at our place – always helps me being a tad more lazy of course!
I know all this may still not result in what I envision for him… but if I don’t even try, what kind of a mother would I be!