Road Signs for Raising Children with Emotional Intelligence

by Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D.

Think of parenting as a journey.  There are some special signs we need to attend to, and we need to do so with a sense of humor.  Parenting with Emotional Intelligence is important if we want to raise children who can find success in school and in life.  The Road Signs are helpful ways to build relationships with our children and reinforce their sense of being cared for and being competent.

STOP

How do we show our kids we care?  It is not by giving them everything they want or by going out of our way to do things for them.  In truth, when parents do not provide limits for their children, they think they don’t care about them. While they will never come out and say this, children need adults to set some boundaries and guidelines.

SLOW.  SHARP CURVES.

Emotionally Intelligent parents know how to read the signs of their own feelings and those of their children.  When things are overwhelming, it’s necessary to slow down.  Trying to do it all, all the time, is a recipe for stress and turmoil.

STATE INSPECTION STATION

Let’s look upon an Inspection as a time to see what is good and right about something.  A parenting tune-up is oriented around the following questions:  When are my kids at their best?  When am I at my best as a parent?  When are my kids at their worst?  When am I at my worst as a parent?

Think about your children’s strengths.  Some are not the best talkers.  But they express themselves well through music, drawing, painting, or by acting something out in person.  The State Inspection Station gives parents a chance to check on how their kids are, not how they want them to be or would like them to be.

TOLL PLAZA 1,000 FEET

In every family, there are tasks and chores and things that must be done so that the household can continue.  Tolls allow the pathway to be maintained.  They enable things, to which we are really looking forward, to take place. Seeing these tasks in this way helps family members share in the “work” without thinking of it as a “chore.”  It makes a contribution to our family.

YIELD

It gets harder and harder to keep track of everything our kids are doing.  Even when schools have voicemail, and communication systems where teachers leave messages for parents with children’s assignments and upcoming school events, it is still hard for many parents to be sure of what their children could do, should do, or must do.  Should they do a five-page report instead of four?  Do they need to check all of the math problems and show their work?  Is it really OK if the lab is written up in a way that is not as neat as parents would like?  When parents are not sure, it makes a lot of sense to use the yield sign.  This means you are suggesting that your children proceed, but with caution.  You do not have reaons to tell them to come to a full stop.  The situation does not require it.  So, you yield to what they are saying, which helps them believe that you trust them.

FOUR-WAY STOP

Every family needs down time together.  The Four-Way Stop Sign is something that parents need to put up when they feel the family is moving in too many directions at once, either away from or even toward each other.  We need to take time to communicate, reflect, plan, and then proceed, with some better sense of order and knowledge where others in the family are headed.  The way, we are less likely to lose sight of our loved ones.

LAST GAS STATION FOR 2,000 MILES

Well, this might be a slight exaggeration.  But these kinds of signs lead us to check our car’s fuel tank.  The family fuel tank is its values and rules, so we should not go for too long without picking up the hood and checking our Family Motto, Mission, or Constitution.

Dr. Maurice Elias will be presenting a program open to the entire community, free of charge, at Riker Hill School on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 at 7:30 PM.

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