Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Emotionally Intelligent Parent

I distinctly recall the wintery morning in January 2004 when I looked at the two little pink lines confirming that we were well on our way to becoming parents. Motherhood, they say, is a magical experience and I would not contest that. As both my pregnancy and I grew, I realised that motherhood and parenthood though may sound synonymous are practically different. It is the constant balance between the heart(mother) and the mind(parent).
On hindsight, the first couple of years were a breeze in parenthood. All we could think was what she was eating and excreting. Life takes a turn when they begin to grow and speak. Being a first time mother(motherhood being instinctive, but most of the learnings in parenting is based on experience), the challenges were many. All mothers would agree that the older the child gets the easier the previous phase feels. For mothers of two and more, I can only think of honouring them with a medal!

Growing up, children become increasingly perceptive. Latest research states that the entire personality of an individual is shaped in the first 5 years of their life. This unbeaten theory then shows up many interesting facts about raising children. As my friend in her facebook update once wrote, “For the first few years of the child, we ask them to get up and go and after that we just want them to shut up and sit down!”
Parenting, no doubt, is a tough job and we need to think what kind of children we are raising. Are we looking at raising kids that seek high grades and only that would “qualify” for being a “good” child?  Having worked in the area of Emotional Intelligence for over 4 years now, I have had the opportunity to train a large number of adults to be aware of their emotions and how can they manage the same. However, time and again, I always thought that we as individuals have been taught to solve the issue in hand rather than be proactive in a way that the issue never occurs. How about nurturing our children in a different manner, in a manner which they turn out to be responsible, proactive and emotionally intelligent adults.

When Daniel Goleman introduced the concept for the first time, it threw open a larger view of life and the life skills required to meet challenges that await our little ones. Nurturing and building emotional intelligence in children is a way to help them become more confident, self aware, cooperate and most importantly empathise.
So how does one achieve this? In the constant method of raising children, making them Emotionally Intelligent will require some “strategy”. Using the word “strategy” may not go down very well with many parents because as they say, “let children be”. So, what is it that needs to be done differently than we already are to help them become self aware and manage their emotions better. Not much, I say and make it a way of life. Here are some quick “to do” list that one may incorporate (some of which I am sure are already in use by parents):

1.       Ask – Don’t Tell

Parenthood comes with an aura for being responsible for another life. In our quest to create and nurture the child, we feel that the best way to teach is to tell what the child needs to learn. A slight shift in this can help the child responsible, so instead of telling what needs to be done, “ask” what needs to be done. Present the child with the scenario and ask for his / her opinion. I do agree that most of the times, it may not be the answer you seek but train yourself to “ask” and “seek” their opinion. This not just makes them feel worthy but increases their confidence to take onus and responsibility later in life. Let’s say, Instead of saying, “Go to sleep”, use” do you think you can be up early tomorrow for school if you don’t sleep now?’  I also agree that these conversations may look “made up” to us since we are not “used to” making such conversations. Let me tell you it works wonders. Keep in mind, “ask” and not “tell”. You decide how and what you want to ask at any given point in time.

2.       Use Questions

Use questions in your conversations as much as possible. It is important that we know their opinion and what they think. It will also give you a peek into your little one’s mind and how it works. Instead of saying, “Lets make that project.”, use “How do you think we can make that project?”

3.       Deal with them during their extreme emotions

When kids throw tantrums, it is their way of attracting attention. Also, they may be super happy at times and too excited as well. Learn to deal with them. While, they are in their extreme emotion, try to calm them down and not get hyper yourself. You will have to check yourself first. Different children respond differently. Sometimes sheer ignorance or a threat may work. Identify what works and then move on.
4.       Listen to them

Many times, we feel we talk to our children. Focus on listening instead. Listen to what they say and what they feel in different situations. If going through a rough or a good phase, ask them about how they “feel” about it. This helps them to connect with their emotional self much better and they learn how to deal with it. Key is to “listen” and not just “hear”.

5.       Spend time

Spending time with children has been a time tested method of connecting with them. However, it is not the hours that you are around your little one, but the “quality” of hours that you spend. Be involved and empathise. See what they say from their point of view. It takes a little effort but imagine how much closer you become to your child. You could also sometimes indulge in writing a brief character sketch of your child. It is a good exercise to know how much you “know” your child.

6.       Use creative reprimand

Reprimand, threat and punishment are an inevitable tool that parents have to correct wrong behaviour. However, the old age method of bribing or punishing may not work very well with the children of today. Using reprimand creatively will allow them to take onus. Lets say for a behaviour  that you do not approve, use reprimands like flowering the plants everyday, helping in laying the table etc. Though there may be another opinion about using such methods, be creative in your own way and see what works best for you and the child. Let punishments be fun too!

7.       Respect the child

While a lot of times, we say ”respect elders”, it is important that you respect your child as well. Respect his time, his space and his thoughts. Respect his emotions even if it is a bad tantrum. Talk to him after he is out of it. Ask him what you should do when he throws a tantrum so that you can deal with him better. Constant conversations and soft influence always works wonders.

8.       We are not rats

In the competitive world, we want our kids to flourish and be successful. But, please do not treat them as rats of the rat race. Equipping them with competitive spirit is a must in today’s world but pressurising him / her for a race that may exist but has no end is an absolute no no. Services children are lucky to be exposed to many cultures and changes, which brings their adaptability higher than usual. Focus on their uniqueness and work on them.

9.       Manage your own emotions first

Finally, in order to manage children, we must manage ourselves first. We must know how to manage our emotions before dealing with theirs. For when we get into the emotional rut, we cannot see objectively. The constant advice is also to watch ourselves closely.

To conclude, I must state that I am no “guru” in training children in Emotional Intelligence. Most of this is coming from experience in working in this area. What works for one child may be an absolute “flop” with another. Find out the uniqueness in your child and reach out to him / her.  Every child is different and therefore must be treated  differently.

As Khalil Gibran so beautifully says,
“You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Question!

In the matters of the heart, there is no logic.......I have missed writing so much. After a hiatus of about a year, I come back to writing. (blogging, I should say!)..which for me is more of pouring my heart out. Though I write reviews for a website and write training manuals, I am bound by parameters in writing. I am not complaining..I enjoy what I do...but blogging is something that I can write through my heart and how!..
When I had to recently sent my profile to someone, he pointed out - "Your blog, my dear! has a post that is almost a year old!".."Is it?" I said, and sure enough I was kicking myself for it. How could I not write? Or the past one year had been such a roller coaster that I had no time to really pen down my feelings...but today, I seek to write as I find it therapeutic.

I feel that my life is divided in two and both the parts are yearning for excellence. The parts like anyone else's out there is my career and my relationships. Oh well!..there is a lot more to it like my  hobbies, my entertainment but i feel they all fall under my relationships. Off late, I come to see that to be able to manage one part, I have to trade off something from the other. Well! call it late realization maybe, but it is now that it has started to affect more. Gone are the days, back in college, when all I wanted was a big fat salary and a great role. Today, money comes probably towards the end in my list, though it is an essential part. Those days I feel I was much happier and people around me supported me towards my goal. 

As I came to be more experienced both at work and my relationships (mostly with my immediate family of a husband and a daughter, my parents and my parents in law), I realized that the though my focus to give it my best in my career is still intact (hazy though!), it seems to have been completely erased from the minds of the others. In these relationships, I do not count friends, as I feel I have been blessed with a great bunch who seem to be always "understand" my side even though they may not approve of it!

In my quest to give it my best as a mother, daughter, sister and daughter in law (not wife again as I have the most wonderful person as my partner and I do not have to "work" extra and give it my best shot as the wife!), I had put some of my own goals under the carpet but I knew exactly where it was!. Having spent most of my time bringing up my daughter in the best possible manner (I am a first time mother you see!!!), I stretched myself trying to achieve in my career front as much as I could. I joined work with a support system carved out with the help of my husband. Then came a time I took a conscious sabbatical and in my opinion did a good job by upscaling my skills. I cam across many people and sure enough with one of them, we derived a great model in working ...flexibly and from home. I was thrilled that it took time but yes I was settling in. I made my mark in the first year, and when things were rolling, I went through health issues and moving towns. It took me time again, but I was back to work and this time with a steady flow of work that required me to completely focus. Oh! how much i love to be busy with something i love and  even get paid for it! Too good to be true i thought, but touch wood!

And then it happened, a trade off from my relationship domain to support my professional domain. Expectations run high when it comes to relationships and each time you feel you have given it your best..the bar is raised. Expectations from my side also rose and that is where I made the mistake. I was in this whole bubble thinking that I was always "giving" and "compromising" and hence felt that it was okay to take liberties, okay to say no and okay to take relationships for granted!..I still do not know whose mistake it is but I am sure I do had a fair share of it. But, isn't forgiveness above mistakes. Are people not allowed a second chance? Will sarcasm, ego and ill feelings ever go?

Truly, one needs to be so careful in manging relationships. One never knows what gives you a jolt. And the jolt comes from someone so unexpectedly, you cannot even recall or remember what is it that one did wrong.

Today, as I value the people closest in my life, I realize it is them that give me the highest level of pain and happiness. But as I understand their need, why is is so difficult for them to understand mine?....a question I still have not got an answer to!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cognitive Diary

I took to writing in school and have been writing ...God only knows how I write but I just write because I love to...I took to blogging so that I could have a medium to write but somehow the clickety clack is just not the same as the swishing of the pen against the paper..( you could call me technologically challenged..but the enjoyment is higher when its the paper and the pen!)...

And hence, I have decided to write in my style and then painfully translate in the soft copy and post on the blog!...that explains why I have not posted anything at all for the past four months(not that anyone has been missing me as I am so "connected" on facebook and the likes!!)

A lot has happened since I put my thoughts together to actually write it. The monotony of routine, the excitement of a holiday, the happiness of meeting family, the feeling of success...lots of emotions and lots of reactions...

I recently read about how writing is theraupatic and can do wonders to one's state of mind. I did not think it to be very effective, till I actually did it. I started talking to a lot of people who are connected to the subject and was flabbergasted at the depth of the techniqe. Most of us react to a situation giving in to our emotions that are triggered by the beliefs that we carry. The reactions on hind sight may then leave us guilty and with a feeling of "my god!..why did i ever behave in that manner!!"...

Simple, because we are so engrossed in our own "self talk" that seldom do we realise the consequences of an impulsive reaction. This causes us more harm than the person who we react to. It was here that I was introduced to the use of a cognitive diary.

I began on the day when I was utterly disappointed with a deal not coming through. We had put in a lot of effort and in my opinion, the prospective client was just "using" us newbees!!!...I spoke to a colleague who suggested I write EXACTLY what I was feeling. I took a paper and pen and began and suprisingly enough, though I had written almost a page and a half, I was not feeling as bad as before!!!
In fact, I felt amused at myself that I could be so featherbrained!!! Sure enough, soon I was laughing at the whole episode, picking up from where we had lost and believe me, the client did call back promising to work with us in the "near future"(fingers crossed!!)

The point I am trying to make is, we cannot change situations and the complexities that come with it, what we can do is work on what is in our control. A cognitive diary does help in this regard. So what exactly is a Cognitive Diary? Its a way of writing out (read venting out) all that we feel - emotionally, physically and mentally whenever we go through spikes of emotions - a high or a low. Generally used as a theraupatic approach to help solve problems in the area of negative emotions and depression, cognitive diary can also be used to help us come closer to our own selves and be more aware of our emotions and our behaviour.

Maintaining a cognitive diary is a method to release one's tensions, trauma and all ill feelings without having to worry about confidentiality or the search for a "trustworthy" friend / confidate. One can begin when one is faced with a challenge that is causing a lot of discomfort mentally and you just "need" to talk to someone. The safest would be to talk to yourself. Write down what you feel and what is bothering you. Do not deny any emotions and see that you clearly write them. Once you have done that, take a walk and come back. Read what you have written and you will be astonished to note that you no longer harbor the negative feelings that you have so vehemently put it in black and white. It may take a while till you actually feel comfortable doing this. Donot fret, for doing the most uncomfortable thing helps you get comfortable with it!

There is a second level to use your writing to correct oneself or what we call "regulate" our emotions. This is something that people across use it as therapy. Well! I for one have not ventured into it.

Until then, I swear by the cognitive diary that has helped me see a lot of changes in myself. I am sure most of my friends who read this blog will agree!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Look Within

My journey as a full fledged Executive Coach began about three months ago...I almost knew what I was getting into...I say almost because I had not realised the power of coaching till I saw the results.....

Coaching as a concept is fairly new in India and has tremendous potential in the years to come. The need for Coaching arises because of a number of factors that are relevant today in the professional and personal areas of any individual.

The basic premise of Coaching is the relationship between the coach and coachee that is built on trust and honesty. A level above is the facilitation process that the Coach brings about to make the Coachee think..and think differently, radically and out of the box. For, in coaching, there is nothing as "I cannot think"....When all windows seem to be closed, there is this small ray of light that the coachee encounters and that is what is called an "insight".

An insight is generated by assisting the coachee to delve deep within his own thoughts and try to evaluate a situation by focusing on how best he can come out of it. The more the person introspects without getting into the detail and a whole lot of drama, there is a cent per cent chance that people arrive at a solution which had never crossed their mind. This is what Coaching brings about...The ability to help people structure their thoughts vocally, to be able to deal with them deep inside and to come out with an "insight".

An insight is momentary unless it is tapped immediately and converted to action. We all have insights through the day, while at work or at home...however, every insight does not move into an action plan as there are other thoughts that cross the mind all at the same time.

It is this tapping of the momentary thought that completely enables the coachee to move forward and full force. This is done by the technique of questioning powerfully and being honest to oneself and like Buddha said - "Look Within!".

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Money Matters!

Din hai suhaana aaj pehli tareek hai.....
Well yes, the first day of the month....the day I open my bank account so see if I have received what I should, the day I plan my monthly budget(only to overshoot it- month on month), the day I pay out salaries(....c'mon to my maid, dhobi etc etc!!), the day I feel very in control(all the figures in the bank help!!)....but there is definitely something about Money that drives us all.

I remember once interviewing someone for a key position and he said "It is the role that drives me and not the money"...well! how much of it is really true?...yes, may be true may be not...But there is this inner happiness that I definitely experience when I see money... I am not materialistic and I am very sure about what does Money do to give me that high..?

I figured, I have a list of strange things about Money...and as usual(in my style of writing!, enlist them as:
1. It is never enough!!
2. It takes care of my impulsive shopping and outings
3. It makes me feel worthwhile
4. It makes me feel independant
5. It makes me wiser as I then begin to plan and save
6. It has an uncanny habit of disappearing just like that
7. It is easier to borrow it than to lend it
8. It brings about discrimination
9. It indicates growth and success for an individual to a nation
10. It makes me secure
11. The more I have it, the more difficult it is to manage it
12. It is extremely tempting
13. More is always welcome
14. Money itself is discriminatory.

I feel a lot better especially as I write the last point. I know money is important and gives me a positive lift but hey it is not everything. It motivates me no doubt but it does not own me and definitely cannot buy me!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I sometimes wonder what are the things that make me happy....A friend of mine told me to "grow up"..and I have been hearing this since I was 7 maybe!...another one called me a "joker" and someone else "funny"...

Looking at all the adjectives bestowed on me, I know I want to derive happiness from everything that is around I decided to just list a few things that make me smile, make me happy and like the song says.."my dil goes mmmmmmmm!!!!"...I wonder if someone else finds this familiar!

I find myself smiliing when:

  • See a new flower bloom in my so called garden (of precisely 4 pots!!),  the morning i open my balcony door.
  • To see an old friend come online and we chat secretly during office hours!
  • To know some close friend's pet name I never knew existed and tease them till I get bored of it!
  • Somesh calling unexpectedly...
  • Poku laughing at some joke she considers only hers.
  • See Poku fight with some older kids to get her way.
  • See a dude gymming his guts out..
  • Make a verbal blunder(oh I am so good at it!).
  • People say "gosh! u have lost weight!"(its been a while since someone said that though!)
  • Smile from a passerby!
  • A smiling cabbie
  • A handsome dude checking himself in the mirror.
  • Smell of wet soil
  • Aroma of  home cooked meal
  • Smell of a new book
  • Hot brewing coffee in the winters of Darjeeling
  • Meeting old friends and going berserk laughing over old days (SIMS!!!!!!)
  • Boiled bhutta with butter(smack smack!!)
  • A new painting made by Prakriti
  • Lunch at Churchill
  • A parcel I did not expect
  • A call from an old forgotten friend
  • A tight hug from Somesh in public
  • Poku saying"I love you"(to get her way!!)
  • Seeing my mum on facebook.
  • Reading the comments of my friends on my blog!
  • A book full of Pj's (love the sindhi and santa banta ones)
.....and the list is endless..........God I thank you for everything and keeping me happy even in the most distressing and trying times...My vow to you...I will be happy!...Im the new "Happy Singh!!!"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Power of Trust

Trust - a small word but means the world.

In the past few months of Coaching, I realise how important trust and honesty is. How come one can trust someone so easily while it takes ages to actually trust someone else. What is that factor that allows us to trust and what is it that helps build trust. A lot of research has gone towards this and continues to do so.What I find intriguing is the only thing that allows us to trust someone is to trust ourselves, to be honest to the other is to be honest to oneself. To have a belief very strong that one knows when it is right.

Trust has huge power. With trust on one's side, every challenge, every hurdle seems not so difficult to achieve. So whose Trust are we talking about. I am talking about the Trust in oneself. In one's beliefs, in one's doings, in one's destiny and in one's future.

If I can Trust myself enough to know that I can achieve what I set out to, I can do what I want to and I really do believe that there is nothing that is a struggle and again I trust myself, the world is mine and I know it.

There have been times when I look back at life and wonder if it was trust that got me where I am and I know the answer that each time I face a hurdle, I have to trust myself to pick me up and go on. In times of distress, one feels demotivated and depressed, but hey trust in oneself is close to trust in God and with this in mind, nothing then remains a challenge.

As I am making my path towards being an Effective Coach, I realise how important it is for me to be trustworthy and honest. Ethics run high in my area of work. So does confidentiality and honesty. To be an effective Coach, I need to understand the sanctity and piousness of trust. If I cannot keep the sacredness of the engagement, I would be harming the relationship in a huge way. Sometimes I marvel at the way some people so easily say things that are considered personal and private. There has to be something and I am still searching for the answer....