I spoke at a SHRM event last week and at the end, some asked me how I help my little children (ages 6 and 4) develop their EQ. It was the first time I’ve been asked that question in public and was delighted to share what I do. The qualifier to my response is that I am no parenting guru and I appreciate that every child and family dynamic is unique. Though what I do works for me, it may not work for you and what I do is entirely experimental at this stage.
I know most parents during either dinner or pre-bed time will ask their kids what their “Highs” and “Lows” of the day were. I put my kids to bed on most nights and it is by far, the best part of my day. I enjoy the winding-down part of their day, especially now (summer) when they’re into so many high-activity events at camps. I ask my kids the following questions every night:
- What was the best part of your day?
- Did you laugh today? (if they say “no”, I tickle them till they do laugh)
- Did you see anyone sad today?
- Did you help anyone today?
It typically takes less then five minutes to go through these four questions and I have purposefully crafted them. With them being so young, I can’t use anything academic, logical, or even rational to develp their EQ. Here is my logic on asking the questions:
What was the best part of your day?
Just as I ask my clients to start a conversation or meeting with something positive, I want to begin with something good. You never know what someone has been through prior to you meeting with them … and if they had a negative experience prior to you, chances of them being at their best for you are compromised. Who doesn’t like to recount something positive? Starting anything off with a smile can only optimize the success of the proceeding exchange.
Did you laugh today? (if they say “no”, I tickle them till they do laugh)
As I’ve shared in previous blogs, laughter is an incredible diluter of negative endorphins. Finding some humor each day can literally be the difference between a good day and a bad one. I tell my kids to laugh each day and I find them looking for reasons to laugh in the middle of the day. We are a chemical factory filled with liquids and we can induce positive emotions. Laughter is one of the more poweful ways to induce a positive state because it is often instantaneous and sudden, so the the quick-release of positive endorphins can dilute even the more powerful negative ones.
Did you see anyone sad today?
I am teaching empathy with this question—my favorite dimension of EQ. Because they know I will ask this question every night, they actively look for non-verbal and verbal clues from their friends. I ask them often how they know someone is sad and the responses they give can only help them be much more self-aware and empathetic… two of the hardest skills to teach an adult.
Did you help anyone today?
My daughter often tells me she will “hug a friend who was sad” or my son will say “I let him play with my toy.” Making them aware that they have the power to impact others by the simplest of actions is a skill so easily forgotten by adults.
Try these, or your own EQ developing activities with your kids … and I will bet they will grow up with a higher EQ than most.