February 3, 2010

Fell Off the EI Parent Wagon

"What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself."
-Abraham Maslow

I haven't been spending much time thinking about emotionally intelligent parenting in the past few weeks.  Being exhausted pretty much pushed all non-essentials to the side.  Today I remembered that we'd gotten off track as I was telling Robotson that "if he did such and such, then such and such would happen."  It dawned on me that I've been making a lot of statements like this lately.  I'd also stopped trying to listen, initiate conflict resolutions, and was resorting back to you statements instead of I-Messages.

In the spirit of getting back in gear, I've got a couple of links.

About.com has a definition and a little history of emotional intelligence.  I was excited to see the mention of Abraham Maslow since I had recently used his hierarchy of needs to more clearly define my needs in conflict resolutions.  I was even more thrilled to see the mention on the P.E.T. blog.

Science Daily had an interesting article on kids and social rejection.  Basically, kids that have a hard time navigating social interactions are more likely to be depressed, do poorly in school, and turn to drugs.  Robotson has a bit of trouble in social situations (though I'm not worried about his schoolwork or drugs).  The article describes three situations:

The studies indicate that some children have difficulty picking up on non-verbal or social cues.
According to McKown, "They simply don't notice the way someone's shoulders slump with disappointment, or hear the change in someone's voice when they are excited, or take in whether a person's face shows anger or sadness."
A second major factor is that some children may pick up on non-verbal or social cues, but lack the ability to attach meaning to them. 
The third factor is the ability to reason about social problems.
"Some children may notice social cues and understand what is happening, but are unable to do the social problem solving to behave appropriately," said McKown.
A child who can take in social cues, recognize their meaning and respond appropriately, and who is capable of "self- regulating," or controlling behavior, is more likely to have successful relationships.
"The number of children who cannot negotiate all these steps, and who are at risk of social rejection, is startling," said McKown.
Nearly 13 percent of the school age population, or roughly four million children nationwide, have social-emotional learning difficulties.

I think Robotson most likely fits into the third group.  I have found that he is able to recognize how people are feeling and understand them, but doesn't seem able to do anything about it.  It's like his brain jams.  I wonder if role-playing would help and if he'd be willing to try it.

Last, I happened upon this article from NPR on emotional training helping to fight depression.  They never use the word mindset, but basically they are describing kids with fixed mindsets.  They get into negative thinking and it spirals from there.  But when they can teach kids to think differently, relying on facts instead of emotions, they give kids the skills to deal with disappointments.


Anthony says that just the other day, he missed what he says was an easy problem on a math test. "You just think you're stupid automatically," he says. "That's the first thought, but you have to fight that away."
He's learned to stop and think about the real facts. Overall, his grade is pretty good. And if he tried harder next time, he would probably do better.

Sometimes it seems so daunting, the changes I want to make in the way we think.  Keep moving forward.

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