Some of the favourite topics amongst all parents are that their kids don’t listen, the generation gap, anger issues, behavioural problems – in fact, the list seems to be endless.
Sometimes parents are at their wits end when they’re just not able to connect with their kids irrespective of age or gender. But there’s help where parents can equip themselves by attending some workshops on better parenting styles.
While many of would scoff at the thought of better ways of parenting, thankfully parents are realising the need and are eager to equip themselves for a better relationship with their children.
Being a Parent-Child Play Practitioner myself and trained in Skilled Parenting Techniques, I was slightly sceptical before attending the workshop. I was wondering what new do I have to learn from here. I think somewhere we all tend to have a little mental block before we start something new, especially in parenting. But I’m glad I went and here’s why…
This workshop is called Parenting with Emotional Intelligence conducted by a team of senior paediatricians led by Dr. Nita Jagad MD (Paediatrics) DCH at the Borivali Medical Brotherhood Hall.
Mind you, parenting just like religion is a very private and personal concept (at least for me) and most of us are usually not very open to change our views or opinions about the way we bring up our children.
It is only when I attended the workshop did I realise what Dr. Nita Jagad and her team are doing was something incredibly brave because they’re entering into a very private space of our lives. This can only happen if someone is immensely passionate about something and want to create a better world with happier parent-child relationships. What also really struck me during this workshop is that doctors are parents too and we had a common ground to connect as well through such workshops.
One of the main factors that each of the doctors stressed during the workshop was how emotional intelligence is equally important, in fact at times even more than your IQ, how to tap into your emotions, how to deal with it and help your child.
Emotional intelligence in parenting
The workshop was broken down in parts starting with Emotional Intelligence in Parenting by Dr. Nita. According to her over the past several years, a child’s IQ has gone up by 20% but there’s also been a significant drop in their EQ levels. Why is EQ important? It is important as it helps us in connecting with ourselves and to deal with stress. Since parenting is all about communication between the parent and the child, what better way to hone the relationship than by connecting with each other at an emotional level!
She stressed the need for a change in the way we communicate with our children and that change begins with ourselves first. With brilliant examples of Einstein and Gandhi she couldn’t validate enough how good parenting skills can go a long way in bringing up our children and turning them into fine human beings.
One of the primary observations made by her and her team is that we focus on a child’s educational and extra-curricular abilities, but not on their emotional qualities. No school curriculum teaches children emotional quotient and there’s practically hardly any time spent in teaching our children about feelings and sadly enough one of the primary reasons for behaviour problems is due to poor levels of EQ in children.
Studies have shown that even a state of Kerala which is rated as high on IQ with 100% literacy, is also one of the states with the highest number of suicides in the country and also known as the divorce capital of India (Source: Deccan Chronicle, 25th July, 2016) – this could probably relate to the low EQ levels and awareness.
What I liked here is that we need to validate our feelings and that of our child. If we are able to do that, we can form an instant connect with ourselves and our children and learn how to deal with issues better.
Reasons for deteriorating EQ
One of the primary reasons for our EQ to drop is that even though we maybe brought up with EQ, but we’re bringing our children up with IQ. How do we do that? When we substitute personal time with electronic gadgets – when an iPhone, a mobile or a PS3 sadly takes the place of a parent-child bonding.
The workshop also stressed that every emotion has a value and as a human we need to connect with that emotion. For instance, fear is a vital emotion that helps us stay safe while crossing a road. What this workshop aimed was to help us connect with our emotions so that we correctly channelize it and express it correctly.
Rules of Emotions
Remember, we can go through a myriad of emotions. For instance when you’re going on a holiday, imagine the number of emotions that flow through you – excitement of visiting a new place, nervousness/ anxiety of having packed everything especially the tickets and not missing your flight, fear of losing your baggage – the works.
One of the best parts about the workshop that I liked was the concept of ‘psychological vaccine’ a termed introduced by Dr. Jonal Salk – who discovered the polio vaccine. While we as parents take care of getting the best possible vaccines for our children we forget to focus on their emotional strength and immunity to handle stress and challenges in life. In fact as parents we are instrumental in helping our children connect with their emotions and feelings as that will not only make them optimistic but also boost their confidence level as well.
Dr. Rajesh Kasla drew a parallel with our lives, with that of a ship. Our IQ is how well we’ve built our structure through education and training, but our lifeboat is the EQ.
We should know how to tune into our emotions in order to liberate ourselves. For instance, fear and anger are two intense forms of emotions that can dominate our thought process and cripple our judgement. As parents we should take care that we don’t negate the emotions of our child so that they can derive strength from within.
Dr. Rajesh also spoke about navigating emotions by watching our emotions, accepting it, investigating and taking out time to act upon the emotion. He stressed a lot on ‘impulse control’ – so that we don’t hit the roof at a drop of a hat if our child does something wrong. He also stressed that ‘emotional control’ also helps maintaining good relations with friends and family and in dealing with stress.
Other important factors taught to us were about ‘delayed gratification’, ‘stress tolerance’ in children, relationship skills which primarily focuses on empathy and optimism. As parents, it is imperative that you are empathetic towards your child in order to understand their situations better and help the child solve their problems and gain self-confidence in return.
Dr. Varsha Bhosle spoke about the importance of emotional literacy – that is the ability to recognise, understand and appropriately express our emotions. Remember she said, “IQ gets you the job, but EQ helps you through it,” and I simply loved this line from her.
Why is emotional literacy important? Because she says, if you can ‘name it, you can tame it’. Being able to identify what you feel, allows you to bring down the intensity of the feeling and handle the situation better. With the help of the ‘Feeling Wheel’, you can help yourself and your child in connecting with their feelings to be able to deal with the situations better.
Science Behind Emotions and Anger Management
Post lunch, Dr. Sunila Jathar, conducted this fantastic session in a mix of Hindi and English and was an instant connect with the parents. Most parents had a common grievance, how to deal with anger issues – of self and their child.
And so Dr. Sunila decoded the feeling of anger for us and how it gets processed in the brain. She also stressed on ‘Events-Thoughts-Feelings’, Red Thoughts (I can’t, I wont), Green Thoughts (I’ll try, I’ll do my best) – what she was trying to do is, helping us connect with our emotions at a deeper and a scientific level, so that somewhere the self-blame is removed and replaced by self-consciousness.
She said, “Remember every emotion is true be it a gut feeling, the shivering of spine to palpitation of the heart.” Emotions have centres in our brain and we all go through emotion wiring called neuroplasticity that begins from the time of birth, which gradually helps a child deal with situations better. She taught us about impulse brain, the thinking brain, how to avoid getting emotionally hijacked and the most important ‘six-second pause’ technique to help control your temper.
All this was beautifully woven into dealing with our relationships be it with self, our spouse, family members and especially our children. The workshop also talked about ways of communicating with our children through ‘empathy, listening and parking’ techniques.
Four major type of parenting styles were also touched upon right from the regressive style of a Dismissing Parent, Disapproving Parent and a Permissive Parent to a more relaxed and progressive style – the Emotion Coach. Why each of these parenting styles were touched upon, so that we as parents and individuals take note of where we are today and what changes we should bring about in ourselves for a better parent-child relationship.
Dr. Rajesh Kasla also spoke about discipline and punishment, but he pointed out the importance of not criticising and shaming the child. Most parents fear repression and hence resort to harsh forms of discipline and punishments. He stressed on the factor that for a better parent-child relationship be a role model for your child, shower them with unconditional love and be open to communication.
Finally, Dr. Nita Jagad signed off the day’s workshop with the positive effects of EQ right from optimism, active listening, flexibility and positivity.
“Remember as parents, you need to respond and not react and how you can do that, by working on your emotional quotient and if you think you’re too late, well, here’s news for you – EQ can be taught up to the age of 90 years, so there’s never too late to change,” she signs off.
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