eq and parenting

Parenting is hard. Conventional wisdom holds that no one is quite ready to be a parent until it happens, then we learn as we go. As rewarding as this is, it can be challenging, if not downright terrifying, at times. eq and parenting 

What is it that parents need to learn to be successful? What does “success” even look like, sound like, and feel like for both parents and children? We know there are no straight answers here, nor ones that apply in all cases of parenting. The good news is, we can turn to emotional intelligence (EQ) for help.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand your and others’ emotions, and to use this awareness to manage yourself and your relationships. Four skills make up your EQ: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. We can develop these skills and continue to refine them over the courses of our lives.

Emotional intelligence development programs have been found to increase the abilities of preschool children based on playing well with others, analyzing situations, problem-solving, and showing high self-esteem. Research shows that emotional intelligence mitigates parental burnout, which has direct and adverse effects on child development. Research has also shown low parental emotional intelligence can surface as authoritarian (high demandingness, low warmth) or uninvolved (low demandingness, low warmth) parenting styles, both of which are risk factors for challenging behaviors in children.

Still, research studies like these tell only a part of the story. Parenting is a continual work in progress,  and just like EQ, it takes conscious practice and development. In this post, professionals from TalentSmartEQ refer to specific emotional intelligence strategies from our EQ 2.0 book that have helped them through the trials of parenting:

Self-Awareness Strategy #9 & 10:  Don’t be Fooled by a Good or Bad Mood.

“The key is consistency.” I remember my mother giving me this advice as I was raising my children. It made me wonder if she realized how in tune I was with her mood when I myself was growing up. I knew exactly when to ask her for something that I really wanted.  It was when she was in a good mood, of course! And then I recognized that same behavior in my own children. How many of you have noticed that you get asked, “Can I have a sleepover?” more often when you’re in a good mood? How many of you have noticed your teenager leave the dinner table and hide out in their bedroom when you’re in a bad mood?

Children of all ages are more aware of our mood than we give them credit for. Your ability to recognize your own mood, good or bad, can provide the pause you need in order to take time on your decisions.  When you’re in a good mood, be careful about impulsive decisions like extra spending on treats at the grocery store and saying “yes” to future obligations–like Girl Scout Troup Leader–that you don’t have time for because you’ve already agreed to be the Class Parent, Basketball Coach, and carpool coordinator. When you’re in a bad mood, notice it and remind yourself that it might affect the way you’re responding to your family. Think back to what brought on the mood. Remind yourself that it is temporary, but the way you react with your family can have a lasting effect.  – Lori Johnston, VP of Sales

Self-Management Strategy #9: Take Control of Your Self-Talk

My father, Gregory Campbell Sr., had an amazing gift of using words to teach my brother and me self-worth, work ethic, and the importance of education.  My father taught me self-worth by challenging me not to allow my environment to dictate my future, but to believe that I could accomplish anything my heart desired.  As a kid, I remember him telling me that I could be “Dr. Campbell.”  He emphasized the importance of positive words and thoughts could play in what I say, do, and accomplish. My father passed away in 2004 from lung cancer, but his words became my “self-talk” to manage my emotions during many of life’s challenges, including earning my Ph.D.

I have worked hard to pass on to my children the “positive self-talk” strategies that I learned from my father. As a federal agent, my family relocated to different states on five occasions from the West to the East coast. During each of the relocations, my two children had to make new friends, attend new schools, and establish relationships with teammates of new sports teams.  I am sure that my career relocations sent my children through a roller coaster of emotions, such as fear, anxiety, anger, and frustration.  My hope was that both children would draw on positive self-talk like “This is good”, “You’re doing fine”, or “This isn’t so bad.”  After becoming adults, both of my children have shared with me that “positive self-talk” increased their resilience and helped them navigate education, relationships, and sports performance. – Dr. Greg Campbell, VP Of Law Enforcement

Social Awareness Strategies: #15 Step into their shoes.

Memories of my parents are not fond ones. Having grown up in a separated household, the boiling points of personalities were often at the stage of eruption and frequently resulted in verbal and physical altercation; unfortunately, these are the memories that have lasted.

When my wife and I decided to have children, I knew I didn’t want my kids to look back and remember their childhood in the same way, I wanted their memories to be happy and I wanted to break the cycle. This doesn’t mean that I expected conflict wouldn’t arise, rather I wanted to respond in a way that allowed my children to grow in as healthy of an environment that I was able to provide.

There are several things that test our patients as parents; from stepping on a Lego left on the floor to a bad report card. Conflict will arise, but it’s how we respond to these obstacles that will lay the foundation for our children to grow emotionally. When faced with those rising frustrations I try putting away my lens of the world, my beliefs, emotions, and thinking patterns, and put myself in their shoes. I think: How will my child remember this situation? Will they look back with grief or anguish? A learning experience or a non-event lost to the annals of history?  Is this how I want to be remembered? – Will Mau, Director of Sales Operations

Social Awareness Strategy #11 Practice the Art of Listening & Relationship Management Strategy #10 Acknowledge the Other Person’s Feelings.

As the mother of a 19-year-old son, I have certainly had plenty of low EQ moments over the years. Early on as a parent, however, I discovered a powerful one-two punch of two key emotional intelligence strategies that have resulted in a solid foundation of trust and connection with my now college freshman. These two invaluable social competence strategies for parents are (1) Acknowledge the other person’s feelings and (2) Practice the art of listening.

One pivotal victory with the one-two punch came when I discovered my 13-year-old son uncharacteristically crying by himself on my couch over an impending change at his dad’s house, where he spent half of his time. My limbic system (which I liked to pretend was my heart) wanted to rush to the phone and berate my ex-husband. My frontal lobe knew the long-term gain for my son was to help him sort through his feelings and teach him to speak for himself. So, after acknowledging that he had every right to feel as he did, I spent the next 2 hours just listening. (And trust me, as someone who speaks for a living, it took every fiber of my being to refrain from commentary.) As my son shared his feelings and his concerns, I simply took notes in his words. When he was worn out, I sent him off with a hug and the suggestion to get some much-needed rest. Before he went upstairs, I told him the notes would be waiting for him in the morning when he could look at his thoughts and feelings with a fresh eye and decide what he needed to say to his father.

To this day, I don’t know the details of the conversation they had the next day, but my son felt better, and he began an important journey in learning to express himself to be more effective –  Dr. Sheri Duchock, Director of Training

Without question, EQ impacts not only the ability to be an effective parent, but also a child’s capacity for developing essential life skills. This is the first of our EQ and parenting series shared through real lived experiences of some TalentSmartEQ professionals who have navigated the tricky work of parenting — for themselves, their partners, and their children — using emotional intelligence, specifically adapting strategies from Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Keep an eye out for future EQ and parenting blog posts from TalentSmartEQ and let us know if there are any parenting topics you would like us to cover by commenting on our EQ and Parenting LinkedIn post pinned to the top of our page.

From Insights to Action

Emotional Intelligence is a constant learning curve, just like parenting. For EQ strategies to take your parenting skills to the next level, please refer to EQ 2.0.

Addition Authors: Josh Rosenthal, Director of Training & Dr. Maggie Sass, VP of Applied Research