At the age of eight, I knew more about math than I did about my mom. I could add numbers together, but I could never figure out why she would scream and shout for no apparent reason. Subtraction came easily, but knowing how to navigate the turbulent waters of my mother’s constant mood swings – and all of the emotional turmoil that it entailed? Definitely harder than taking apart a simple sentence or memorizing my multiplication tables.
While I understand the importance of standardized testing and intelligence aptitude, it should not take precedence over emotional intelligence. While the United States may not sit at the top in terms of academic performance in comparison to other countries, we’re also struggling in terms of anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders, as well as happiness in general. Studies have also shown that children who can comprehend and deal with their feelings do better on tests. It makes sense; those who are aware of their emotions can spend less time suffering through tumultuous angst and focus on academics instead.
What’s more important, in the end, when it comes to the tougher parts of life? Recognizing a prime number, or knowing how to resolve a conflict before it spirals out of control? With technology on the rise and face-to-face communication losing popularity, the ability to interact with others in an amiable, productive way may start to decline. While better than nothing, it’s not enough to just apply pithy statements like “respect property” or “do not fight.” Like all of the deeper aspects of life emotions can be complex, charged, and uncomfortable.
It is difficult to guide children through their emotions. But that’s the entire point: any type of interaction involves a myriad of social cues and non-verbal implications. It’s just like learning a new language. And like any other language or skill or talent or trade, honing emotional and social intelligence requires that window of opportunity, early exposure, and constant practice. EI may be one of the hardest concepts to understand, but it’s one of the most vital, too.
I guess I’ll never know whether more information regarding emotional intelligence would have helped me out in my childhood. I did cry, just not in front of my peers, and not in a way that was conducive to a healthy upbringing. But I know that, on a base level, some form of acknowledgement or an opportunity to speak out would have helped.
Does anyone agree or disagree? Were you taught ways to handle stress and negative emotions when you were in school? I feel like I haven’t proposed that many solutions in this post, though you can find a few in one of the articles I linked to – I need to do more research on this myself. My humblest apologies for not posting often, college has been crazy and I wanted to write about an issue as opposed to another personal post or book review. I hope you are all doing well and later today I will comment on some blogs and respond to some overdue comments on this one. One last note: you can check out my brief thoughts on One Writer’s Beginnings, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince here, here, and here respectively. Once again have a great day and almost weekend!