We parents naturally want our children to grow up happy and successful, thus we invest so much time and effort to carefully nurture them as they grow. But how exactly does an individual become a success?
Many factors come into play, such as intelligence, skills, and attitude, among others. But many parents today still put a premium on grades as a benchmark to a child's development, largely because of the way most of us were brought up. So we worry when our child gets low grades, and we feel confident he will do well on his own when he gets straight As.
However, according to Dr. Tippy Sumpaico-Tanchanco, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, there has to be a balance of general intelligence and emotional intelligence for children to be successful.
What exactly is EQ? Contrary to beliefs, emotional intelligence is not the triumph of the heart over the head; rather, it is the intersection of intellect (reasoning) and emotion.
While intelligence quotient (IQ) is a number used to describe a person's cognitive abilities (how smart the person may be), emotional quotient is a way of recognizing, understanding, choosing, and monitoring how we think, feel and act. It also determines majority of our daily actions, and, thus, it is responsible for 80% of the “success” in our lives.
We're all familiar with the marshmallow experiment conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel in the 1960s: Kids ages 4 to 6 were told that they could eat the treat in front of them, or, if they wait for 15 minutes without eating it, will be given two instead of one treat. The tester would then leave the room.
The children's reactions varied: some of them would "cover their eyes with their hands or turn around so that they can't see the tray, others start kicking the desk, or tug on their pigtails, or stroke the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal," Mischel observed. A number of them also ate the treat as soon as the tester left the room.
In a follow-up study conducted on these same kids more than a decade later, it was found that those who delayed gratification during the experiment -- those who waited to get two treats -- did better in life overall than those who weren't able to control themselves. In 2011, a brain imaging study of these individuals when they reached mid-life showed distinct differences between those who delayed gratification and those who did not. In other words, the way their brain was developing as a child had a direct impact on their decisions and actions.
What are the factors that affect cognition? During her talk at the launch of Enfagrow A+ with milk fat globule membrane (MFGM), Dr. Sumpaico-Tanchanco enumerated four factors that affect how children acquire knowledge:
1. Maturation of the central nervous system For a child to develop properly, he needs to have a normally developed brain and spinal cord to facilitate the transmission of signals from one organ to another.
2. Experience Simply put, constant repetition helps in the mastery of a skill. Children, with their young and impressionable minds, learn through practice.
3. Social transmission of information There is a wealth of information available everywhere, and the way a child learns is facilitated by external stimuli as well, as when parents or teachers instruct the child.
4. Innate tendency for mental growth A typically-developed child will progress towards more complex ideas and concepts.
How, then, can we parents support our kids to have a healthy balance of IQ and EQ for future success?
1. Establish a nurturing relationship with your child. Start by ensuring that all your child's basic needs are met -- physically, mentally, emotionally. Ninety percent of brain development happens in the first five years of life. An undernourished child will not be in the best physical condition to learn. On the other hand, a child who is emotionally inferior may be held back from reaching full potential.
2. Allow children to explore. Kids learn from using their senses, so allowing them to explore their environment helps them expand their knowledge. It also allows them to understand the dynamics between themselves and the world around them.
3. Encourage creativity. Creativity isn't limited to the arts. In people with high emotional quotients, this is manifested in the way they process their thoughts. People with high EQ are usually open to challenges, can handle failure well, and could think of innovative ways to approach the problem at hand.