Travelling along I placed my feet up on the dash board (yes I was the passenger) when my 6 year old son piped up “I think you should take your feet down from there Mum”. I enquired for his reasoning, thinking he would say something like it’s not safe if we crash, instead he simply said “It’s not fair if you get to and we don’t.” It got me thinking, is it right to teach children about fairness when they live in a world that is not always fair? Will teaching them to be fair lead them ultimately to be confused and disappointed when they face the unfairness of our world?
For me I believe that I am helping develop two boys who one day will become men with high emotional intelligence. Something I think will help them stand out from the rest, will place them in a position that will enable them to help understand how people tick, what influences them, how to nurture their needs, how to become great leaders.
Perhaps you may think this is a great leap from teaching them about fairness, bare with me and let me connect the dots. Fairness is not simply just about whether you are being treated fairly, although it covers this to, it is more about helping them understand how other people are feeling and why they may react in certain circumstances. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes allows you to empathise, empathy is in my mind the greatest tribute to fairness we can extol. To empathise we do not need to agree with but can understand what the other person may be experiencing or thinking.
This plays out with amazing results when our boys talk to us about someone being mean to them or a friend. This normally incites a discussion full of questions from me to try to better understand the environment (what was happening leading up to the event), whether the event occurs regularly and what reactions others involved had. The questions include asking my boys to think about how they think the person who talked meanly was feeling, especially powerful if something had happened to that person leading up to them being mean. Sometimes they struggle to think as that person, in these cases I ask them to think about how it would make them feel. This helps build their ability to put themselves in others situations, identify which ones make them feel good or bad, and make decisions based on that.
If you approach life being able to relate to the impact you have on others there is a high chance you will treat people the way you want to be treated, that you will respect their decisions and find ways to work with them in order to achieve the best results. Equally you will be able to accept it if an individual can not relate to you, you will know confidently this has no bearing on you personally.
Children are miniature adults, as a result all parenting strategies including the one above can be applied to adults too. We are not too old to learn or change our behaviour, if we choose to. We can be stubborn or not willing to change and with either of those mind sets it’s extraordinarily challenging if not impossible to change. However, if we can be open minded and come with the desire to change then we can all learn to develop our emotional intelligence. Why would you want to? To live a happier life, with less judgement of others, embracing the diversity of the human race and possessing the skills to harmonise. With knowing that why wouldn’t you?
To live life on purpose requires high emotional intelligence. Living life on purpose is to be concious of your thoughts and actions, know that they all have an outcome. Once you understand you have control of whether those outcomes work positively or negatively for you and those you have influence on helps you understand the impact you can have on the world.