E.Q. with Singakwenza
Emotional Intelligence or “EQ” is a term that is being bandied around in many spheres at the moment. Forbes Magazine recently published an article stating that “Emotional Literacy Can Make You a Better Leader!” (10/01/2013) What is Emotional Intelligence, and why is it so important?
Generally Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to read, understand and control emotions – both your own and those of others. This ability has a direct impact on your life, your productivity and your achievement – and the good news is that these skills can be learnt!
Salovey and Mayer (1990) proposed a model that identified four different factors of emotional intelligence: the perception of emotion, the ability to reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion and the ability to manage emotions. Bearing this in mind, it is clear to any parent of a toddler in the midst of a full blown tantrum that EQ is not highly developed at this stage of ones’s life! However, if we don’t start to teach this skill from a young age, the number of cases of road rage, child and spousal abuse, and homicide will become even worse than they are at the moment.
We start this process very simply in our Singakwenza crèches, with helping the children to start identifying clear emotions like happy and sad. These are depicted pictorially (we used the cardboard from cereal boxes) and the child chooses the face that shows how he is feeling. We then start to help the child to identify how others may be feeling and find the face that represents that emotion. There is a lot of interaction between the educator and the child, with the educator giving the child the vocabulary which the child may not have. This education is not restricted to lesson time. The educator will help her children to identify their emotions by saying something like, “I can see you are feeling very frustrated, Sanele. Rather than throwing your shoe across the classroom, come and ask me to help you.” In this way, she is helping the child to identify better ways of coping when the emotions seem overwhelming.
As with any skill, this is a process and takes time and effort on the part of both the educator and the child, but developing this skill in the future leaders of tomorrow is non-negotiable!