It’s hard to think straight when you’re feeling upset, angry or besieged. How often do we regret our behaviour when under the influence of heightened feelings? When we lash out in anger, slump off dejectedly, or respond irrationally to a perceived slight or even an intentional slam?
Sometimes the way we react under pressure, or emotionally frame the world around us, can significantly affect the successful course of our lives, both personally and professionally.
Educators used to think that emotional intelligence — essentially our ability to control our emotions regardless of circumstance — was either something we possessed naturally or was a skill set we learned along the way, through experience and trial and error.
Current research, however, seems to suggest otherwise. It seems many of us never get the hang of self-restraint (according to an article in The New York Times Magazine), which suggests that kids can benefit by being exposed to a new teaching strategy called social-emotional learning.
Convinced by numerous studies, that point to mental wellbeing rather than academic achievement as being the ultimate predictor of future success, many schools in the U.S. have begun to include practical programs, which help kids to develop a psychologically entrenched method of coping with their emotional reactions to many of life’s stressors.
No one is suggesting that a superior education isn’t an advantage socially and economically, but research and common sense also indicate that self-knowledge, self-control and persistence are key to obtaining the good life and may even assure better physical health.
It’s almost impossible for kids to learn effectively when they’re feeling anxious, fearful or depressed — the new emphasis on ‘emotional literacy’ is designed to make kids better able to control their impulses and accept responsibility for their emotional behaviour.
According to The Times story, children are being taught techniques for how to better navigate emotional minefields by developing specific strategies for troubling encounters or situations — sometimes it helps just to breathe more deeply to make your way through an anxious moment. I’ll try to remember that the next time someone steals my parking space.
Click here for more on how to cope with stress.