The Development of Emotional Intelligence: A Case Study

The Development of Emotional Intelligence: A Case Study

The Development of Emotional Intelligence: A Case Study

The Development of Emotional Intelligence: A Case Study

Synopsis

How do children learn about the expression and meaning of emotions - both happy and sad? This book answers questions regarding the foundation of emotional intelligence, and examines how children become emotionally literate as they are socialised into their family environment from birth to 2 years of age. These early stages are vitally important in teaching children to understand themselves and others, as well as how to relate to people, and how to adapt to and cope with their immediate surroundings.

In order to examine the development of emotional intelligence, the author presents an overview of the literature on the subject and in the second part of the book presents a case study in which the concepts introduced in the first part of the book are revisited. Based on daily tape-recorded 'conversations' between a baby and her father, the data demonstrate how, over a two-year period, the child learns to express and understand emotions within social interactions. This capacity to reason with emotions is examined through four areas: perceiving emotion, integrating emotion, understanding emotion and managing emotion.

The Development of Emotional Intelligence adds a new perspective to the theoretical debate on emotions and how they develop. It will be of great interest to psychologists and any professionals dealing with families. It will also be helpful reading for parents.

Excerpt

When I was 12 years old a nun told me to hug a dead animal so as to feel closer to my father. Although I was a little puzzled by the prospect of ‘finding’ my father in whatever roadkill or unfortunate bird I happened to come across, it did sound more appealing than just ‘praying for his soul’, which was the suggestion offered by my class teacher. I therefore, somewhat gleefully, relayed the advice back to my mother. Naturally she was horrified and absolutely forbade any ritualistic interactions with animals on the spot.

In retrospect, it was a ridiculous proposal and it does seem incredible it was even a suggestion; however, I have grown to understand why well-intentioned people feel the need to offer such misguided advice. To put it bluntly, death is socially awkward. No one knows how to respond. The desire to express one’s sympathy is balanced with the more fervent desire not to say the wrong thing. Not to diminish the death, but not to overplay it either.

If discussing the death of a parent is difficult with an adult, it is even more so when talking with a child about the death of their parent. This is especially true in cases where it is the father who died when the child was relatively young.

It is easy to dismiss the impact a father can have in the early months of his daughter’s life. Common perceptions seem to be that it is the mother who has the ‘special bond’ with the baby and that the father only comes to the fore once the daughter can walk, talk and needs to be taught how to climb a tree, protected from adolescent boyfriends or when she needs money.

This book challenges this presumption. It demonstrates that the father’s bond with his daughter can be as strong and as fundamental as the mother’s. That simply by taking the time to listen to his daughter and communicate with her, even when she is just at the babbling stage, the father can shape the development of her emotions . . .

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