The most unique characteristic of parenting is that it is a lifelong pursuit. No matter how much we claim to compartmentalize and let go, the fact is that “Once a parent, always a parent”. In spite of all the modernization, the deeply woven evolutionary-tendencies invariably make parenting the most significant role of our lives.
That’s why our level of fulfilment in life depends a lot on how much we excel in this role. And the most important fact is that our equations with our children get shaped prominently in the initial years. Application of emotional intelligence and social intelligence in these years can go a long way in development of our children as well as in development of our strong lifelong bond with them. The key factor for this is ‘attunement’. Let’s see some simple ways to develop it:
- Maintain eye-contact while interacting with them:The best gift you can give to your kids is the gift of undivided attention. Children depend a lot on observing nonverbal behavior to read emotions. That’s why you would always find a kid looking at you to confirm what you meant by what you said. So when you look at them and reciprocate the emotions, they feel stronger connection.
- Listen for facts as well as feelings:Children cannot differentiate discretely between facts and feelings. For them, they are intertwined. That’s why parents have extra responsibility of being responsive towards their feelings. For this, you have to practice empathic listening. You have to continuously stay attuned to what they are saying as well as how they are feeing while they are saying that. It is not about detecting deception or inconsistencies; it is about being attuned to manifestation of emotions.
- Help them become aware of their own emotions:The best legacy a parent can pass on to kids is the ability to understand and regulate selves. For that, you have to talk to them in terms of not just ‘thoughts’ but also in terms of ‘feelings’. Ask questions like “How are you feeling”? “How do you feel about that”? “How did that make you feel”?The resultant awareness is what forms the roots for attunement to others.
These little things have huge impact on the upbringing of children as emotionally intelligent adolescents or socially intelligent adults.
Dr. Sandeep Atre (Founder-Director, Socialigence)