When I was asked in my youth why I would make the choices I did I normally responded with a short, “I don’t know.” I wouldn’t even try to be aware of what I was thinking or feeling. I’m sure it was so frustrating for my parents. It was easier for me to cop out and not be accountable for my choices. As I aged, I would remain in a negative attitude because I was tired or insecure and I never learned to be powerful over my emotions. The first few years of my marriage my husband would ask as he tried to understand me, “Are you okay?” I would response with the quintessential, “I’m FINE.” Which he knew instantly meant I wasn’t and he should back away and find something else to do.
Sometimes my preteen will be in environments where she feels insecure or self-conscious. Her normal response is then to treat me with disrespect. She will be harsh with her tone and her eyes will be cold. She is even quick to be impatient with her brothers and me. Since I am aware that she is not feeling safe I can help her find language to communicate how she feels instead of just disciplining her for being rude.
We don’t allow rude and disrespectful behaviors to be a part of our relationship but the behaviors are symptoms of what is going on in her heart and that needs to be addressed in order for the behaviors to go away. So I empower her to be self aware and take responsibility for her feelings and behaviors through communicating them to me and giving me an opportunity to help her get to a place where she feels safe in her surroundings without the presence of insecurity.
For years I’ve heard well-meaning parents justify their kid’s behaviors by saying phrases such as, “Well, didn’t you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.” Or “Someone is PMSing bad today.” Those phrases give your children license to remain in a victim mindset instead of one of wholeness, assertiveness, and peace. I have a high value for peace in my home. I protect peace at all costs, as I have found peace is a thriving environment for us five. If one of my children is acting in a way that brings anxiety into our home I make sure they deal with it or they go to their room to be in anxiety alone.
In fifth grade, Aria was struggling trying to make good friends. She was new to her school and recognized that the majority of kids in her class had been together since first grade. She tried to make excuses to me that she wasn’t able to connect with them because she was new. However, after asking questions and drawing some information and circumstances out of her, I realized that it was her fault. She wasn’t able to connect and she was knew it was because she was bragging.
I asked her, “Babe, how do you feel when you get a good grade on a test?” She quickly replied, “I’m so excited I tell everyone around me.”
“I’d be really excited too.” I added to validate her feelings and worth. “You worked hard for that grade you should be proud. Do you ask your friends what they get on their tests?”
“No, sometimes they tell me sometimes they don’t.”
I paused and let her think for a bit. “Do you think they don’t share because you don’t ask or because they didn’t do as well?”
“I don’t know,” came a defensive response.
“Hmmm,” I lead in, “How do you think you make other people feel when you brag about your grade?”
“They call me a know it all,” she replied without hesitation.
“They do? Do you think that could be the reason why you’re not connecting with people?”
“But mom, don’t I deserve to be excited?”
“Yes, of course, but how is your excitement affecting your relationship with your friends?” She came to the realization that the way she was interacting with them was actually pushing them away instead of drawing them closer to her. She knew in that moment that she had a choice to make. She could continue to brag and be lonely or she could change her behavior to accomplish the goal of building relationships with the people in her class.
Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the “success” in our lives (-J. Freedman).
Let’s intentionally focus on developing our kids with the end in mind — their destiny and mark on humanity. Our kids are the next generation of leaders and world changers. We want them to be hirable at large companies, we want them developing government policy. We want them influencing film and media. They will not be able to arrive at their destiny if we cannot empower them to be self-aware and lead from kingdom values.
Redefined by Grace,