Emotional Intelligence Theory and Background
Developing and Using Emotional Intelligence
Developing aDnd Using Emotional Intelligence
War, Peace and EI
EQ FOR TEACHER
My Personal Philosophy
I believe we would all be happier if we followed one simple principle:
Mutual respect for each other's feelings.
To get to this point, though, we first need two things. We need to:
1. Know how we feel.
2. Communicate how we feel.
Once we have mastered the first two steps, we can begin work on the lifelong challenge of respecting each other's often conflicting feelings and needs. Success requires Emotional Intelligence.
A Few of My Underlying Beliefs
I believe things work better when people do things voluntarily rather than out of force, coercion, bribery or fear.
I believe our emotions provide us with the means to know ourselves and that this self-knowledge is the key to our happiness.
I believe children start out basically happy, empathetic and "good."
I believe that all of the child's emotions are valid.
The Importance of Emotional Intelligence
Given my philosophy and beliefs, it is easier to understand why I feel so strongly about the need to raise our children's emotional intelligence by teaching them the relevant emotional skills.
Foremost among these skills is emotional self-awareness and emotional literacy. This means more than just teaching them to say "I feel angry. I feel sad." Instead, it means giving them a precise vocabulary with which to express themselves, particularly with respect to their negative feelings, since the positive ones take care of themselves. For example, I advocate we teach them to say:
I feel punished. I feel criticized. I feel afraid. I feel mocked. I feel underestimated. I feel controlled. I feel lectured to. I feel confused. I feel bored.
There is tremendous potential power behind these words when they come from the honest mouths of young children who have not yet learned to hide their true feelings. I say "potential" power because the potential depends entirely on having at least one adult who will listen to them, who will hear them and who will respond.
When we teach children to express themselves, we are helping them begin to take responsibility for their own emotional needs. We do this by teaching them to first identify and then to communicate their feelings and needs. When we do this, we are empowering them in a very tangible way. If we then respect their feelings, and we teach all children mutual respect for feelings, I have no doubt whatsoever that we will live to see a different world--a world where problems are solved by mutual respect rather than by force, power and violence.
Another skill essential to high emotional intelligence is empathy. I believe children are by nature empathetic, and research supports this belief. What we need to do, then, is find ways to nurture this innate empathetic ability.
In my experience, children want to make friends, not enemies. One way we all make friends is by finding out what we have in common. And the way we do this is through empathy, compassion and understanding.
To really understand, though, requires that we be adept at listening and asking the right questions. We need to ask, for example, not just "what happened?" but, "how did you feel?"
It has been said that to understand all is to forgive all. I believe emotional intelligence is absolutely essential to real understanding, as well as real forgiveness.
And when the brain is stimulated with positive feelings--when it is energized--it simply learns better. But when a child is afraid or confused, his cognitive brain shuts down, so he cannot learn. Years ago, John Holt recognized this when he said children fail because they are scared, bored, and confused.
Beyond this, there are health reasons for learning to manage our emotions. Laughter strengthens the immune system. Stress, fear and worry weaken it. In other words, nature speaks to us through our emotions.
Let us see, then, how we can help our children by raising their emotional intelligence.
First, a note about the organization of this booklet. I have designed this to be a condensed version of my complete book on EQ for Teachers, which is currently in the process of a second edition revision. Because it is meant to be used as a brief reference manual, it is organized into alphabetically-arranged sections.
As a guide, I suggest you begin with reading the sections titled Definitions of Emotional Intelligence, Awareness, Empathy, Validation and Emotional Literacy. Next I would suggest Respect and Invalidation.
Thank you for your interest in my work.
April 2, 1998
Discipline is one of the most controversial topics in the educational community. Throughout both the nation and the world, opinions differ greatly regarding the use, effectiveness and need for discipline in our classrooms. Personal definitions of discipline often stem from deep-rooted and emotionally divisive religious and cultural beliefs. Tragically, these various beliefs have often resulted in defensiveness and heated conflict. These overwhelming emotional reactions make it extremely difficult for reason, objectivity, new ideas or even abundant scientific research to prevail.
Many people point to societal problems as evidence of a lack of discipline. Though the term is commonly used to mean punishment, the thesaurus reveals a variety of synonyms for the word discipline:
- chastisement, correction, punishment
- control, moderation, restraint
- conduct, habit, method, order, regimen
- development, exercise, indoctrination, preparation, training
One dilemma, then, is: what do we mean by the word discipline? Clearly, there is a huge difference between chastisement and development, for example.
Let's think for a moment what an emotionally literate child might say if he were "disciplined." It is highly unlikely he would say, "I feel disciplined" or "I feel developed." He is more likely to say, "I feel punished."
Remember that the root word of discipline is "disciple." A disciple is a follower, but we don't get children to follow us by punishing them. We get children to follow us by meeting their needs and by earning their respect, not demanding it.
To better understand a child's emotional thought process, it might be helpful for you to think about how you feel when you are punished. What feelings were programmed into your brain's deepest emotional circuits when you were punished as a child? Did those feelings help you feel better about yourself? In other words, did they bolster your self-esteem and self- confidence? Or did they create feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment? Did they ever produce feelings of resentment, hostility or defiance? Did you feel loved, supported, and understood when you were punished? Did you feel helped and nurtured?
Before you decide to punish a child, ask yourself this question: How do you want them to feel? This question though, begs a larger question. What is the goal of "discipline"? Is it to get children to behave according to your (or society's) expectations or is it to help them learn to develop the self-discipline they need to achieve their own goals later in life?
Your students' self-esteem, self-concept, and self-worth are all riding on how you answer these questions.
------- Note: The book Punished by Rewards (Alfie Kohn) presents the findings from numerous research studies on the use of punishment and rewards. Life Skills 101 for Teachers (Norma Spurlock) offers a non-punitive approach to child development.