What Christian Parents Need to Know About Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a relatively new concept. Coined in 1990, the term has become the latest darling of pop psychology. What is it exactly and should Christian parents be working with their children on their emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is at its core the ability to get along with others. It is not related to intellectual ability, but rather how well one is equipped to interact successfully with others.

The book Primal Leadership maintains that emotional intelligence is made up of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Are those concepts biblical? As with anything that has secular origins, there are some biblical truths hidden within the secular framework. Self- awareness is part of becoming a Christian and then living a Christian life. Christians need to be aware when they are sinning so they become more Christ like over time. They need to be aware of their hearts, minds and souls and whether they are godly, too. Christians also need self awareness in order to be aware of when their words and actions are truly serving others and sharing their faith in effective ways.

Self management is most closely aligned with self control. While everyone is capable of some amount of self control, we know it is a fruit of the Spirit. This means in part that we need the indwelling of the Holy Spirit Christians receive at baptism to reach our potential to be self controlled.

Social awareness is picking up on the cues of others to understand how we are impacting them. If done in an effort to serve and share one’s faith, social awareness can be godly. It’s important to note though that social awareness can also be used to manipulate and control others – quite ungodly behaviors.

The final component of emotional intelligence according to the authors is relationship management. This area is a bit fuzzier than the others. Once again motivation is a key factor for Christians. If one is managing relationships to love, support, nurture, encourage and point others to God, then that is stewardship. We are taking good care of the relationships with which God has blessed us.

On the other hand, if managing relationships is about manipulation, control, “winning” or always getting our way, then it becomes ungodly. Teaching your kids to check their motivations in self awareness can be key to be godly in managing relationships.

Emotional intelligence without God in the equation is tricky. People skills can be used for good or evil. Remembering what God has to say will help your kids use their emotional intelligence for the good of others and God’s Kingdom.

In the end, while you may choose to discuss emotional intelligence with your kids, I would suggest working more on their hearts and Christian character. If they become who God wants them to be, they will have all of the emotional intelligence they need – and know how to use it in godly ways.

Teaching Conflict Resolution Skills to Your Kids (And Their Parents)

Put siblings in a confined space for very long and conflict usually erupts. Often it’s over something silly, like someone breathing on someone else, chewing too loudly or crossing an imaginary line. Sometimes though, there are legitimate differences of opinions or grievances.

Unfortunately, most parenting experts give the very worst advice on managing sibling conflicts. The “let them work it out on their own” philosophy has reigned for many decades now and our society has become the worse for it.

Godly, effective conflict management skills will rarely be figured out by two five year olds in conflict. Or even two adults. It’s a skill set that isn’t complex, but must be taught. If you and your spouse have wonderful conflict resolution skills, your kids may learn them from observing you resolve your conflicts.

For the rest of us who grew up learning to “work it out on our own”, we probably demonstrate as many bad conflict resolution skills as good ones. So what are godly conflict resolution skills? I can’t take credit for these steps, but they are considered the standard in effective conflict resolution.

1. Give your kids time alone to calm down. When emotions are running high, conflict resolution is unlikely to happen in godly ways. Allowing everyone time to regain their self control is key.
2. Have each child think about how they feel and why they feel that way. It’s important for kids to begin to analyze why they feel the way they do. Are they really that upset at what happened or was it just the last straw in a bad day?

3. Teach your kids to calmly tell each other how they feel, using the
following sentences. “I feel ___ when you ___ , because ____. I would like ____.
It’s important for them to use this exact wording until they get used to this step. If they begin to use other language, it may be necessary to back up and start at step one again.
4. Do not let your kids use ugly words when talking to each other. Name calling, using absolutes like “always” and “never”, cursing and other negative words rarely deescalate conflict.
5. Have each child repeat what the other child wants and needs
in their own words.
Often conflict is worsened because people stop listening. This step forces each person to listen until the other person believes they have been heard accurately.
6. Let each child tell their wants and needs again if they believe they were not restated correctly.
7. Have your kids list as many possible solutions to the problem as possible. In most conflicts, the people involved only see two possibilities…their way and the other person’s way. In reality, there are often many other options that would make both people happier. Teaching your kids to seek those extra options is key.
8. Help your kids pick the solution that will help everyone get what they need. Notice the word is “need”. Everyone may not get what they want, but most of the time it is possible to give everyone what they truly need.

Godly conflict resolution requires teaching, guided practice and real life practice. It takes time and hard work, but if learned successfully, these skills can improve most relationships.

Note: Click here for a printable version of these steps.


Teaching Your Kids About Friendship

Let’s be honest. Friends can cause a lot of drama for kids and teens. Your kids will probably have struggles in this area from time to time. They may wonder how many friends they should have, worry about finding the “right” best friend, struggle with peer pressure or any number of other friendship issues.

They need your guidance. You can’t control their friendships, but you can influence them. The younger your kids are when you start teaching them about friendship, the easier it will be for them to handle whatever happens.

So what are some things you should be sharing with your children? There are a lot of things that may help, but these are some of our favorites.

  • Teach them how to find godly, supportive friends. David and Jonathan are a great example of this type of friendship. They both worshipped and trusted God. They were supportive of one another under extremely difficult situations. Situations that would have made most people enemies. Talk to your kids about ways to find out if someone will be a Jonathan type friend to them. Help them understand the value of a friendship that will make them grow in positive ways.
  • Teach them to be friendly to everyone, but choose close friends carefully. Kids and teens are more likely to become like the kids with whom they spend the most time. It’s a rare young person who would have the ability to convince a child who is constantly in trouble to change his or her behavior. It’s more likely your child will soon start to get in trouble with his or her trouble bound friends. That doesn’t mean however, your child should act in unkind or unloving ways to people whom they have not chosen as close friends. Their behavior should reflect God’s love to everyone – friend or not.
  • Teach them the types of people who can cause them to move away from God’s plan for their lives. Sometimes, those negative traits are hard for young people to see. They may only notice outward appearances or common interests – missing the warning sides this friendship could change them in negative ways. Teaching them proactively – from places like the friendship wisdom in Proverbs – can keep you from having to point out the negative traits in a new friend.
  • Teach them to be encouraging, kind, supportive, loving friends. Teach them by how you treat your friends. Discuss ways they can support, encourage and love their friends. Correct unkind and hurtful words and behaviors towards others. Help them correct bad habits that can annoy others and cause them to reject your children’s attempts at friendship.
  • Help them develop multiple friend groups. Some children only need one or two close friends to be happy. Others will have lots of casual friends. Unfortunately, for many young people, they are only in one friend group. When the drama of their friend group becomes hurtful or annoying, they are left feeling they have no friends. If they have several friend groups – school, church, activities – it’s more likely they can find friendship respite in a friend group not currently involved in drama. It also lessens the effects of peer pressure from one group – their entire social currency is not invested in making that one group happy.
  • When friendship blues happen, remind them of everyone who will always love them. Yes, they will quite probably roll their eyes or tell you that those people “have to love them” (so it doesn’t count). Deep down though, there is reassurance in knowing God, their family and others will love them in spite of any “mistakes” they may make.
  • Give them hope for future friendships. Some kids are mature for their age. Or have special needs. Or are extremely talented. They may feel like there is no one in their current environment who really “gets them” enough to be a close friend. It can become discouraging – especially in the teen years. Explain to them that as they move towards college and/or a career path, they will move or specialize more. It is often in those environments they will find those friends who are more like them. Sometimes just giving them that hope for the future is all they need to move through their current friendship woes.
  • Watch for serious signs of trouble and get help when needed. Falling grades, changing eating habits, lethargy, lack of interest in things they normally love, flat affect and other signs of depression are often red flags. Don’t let things go on so long serious issues like drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders or suicide become a reality. Start having conversations to try and find the roots of the changes in behavior and attitude. If you feel like the problems are serious, get professional help for your child.

Friendships are essential for your children’s health and growth. Preparing them to choose and be great friends can make it easier for them to form friendships that will encourage them to reach their godly potential. It’s worth your time and effort.

Do Your Kids Understand the Power of Social Media?

Do Your Kids Understand the Power of Social Media? - Parenting Like HannahYou’ve probably seen many articles about kids and social media. Maybe you are worried about even allowing your children access. Or perhaps you think it’s overblown hype that won’t touch your kids because they are different from others their age.

Your teens may want to use social media as a platform for the things that are important to them. Yet, few have adult led conversations about the positive ways they can use social media to serve others and share their faith.

If your teen is getting ready to join social media or has been on it for several years, it’s great to have a family discussion about the many ways they can use their social media platform for God’s glory. It’s also important though to help them think through the ways people often think they are making a positive difference, but may actually be making things worse or drive people away from their interest in God and Christianity.

There are a lot of things you can discuss, but these can help get the conversation started.

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Fun Communication and Leadership Activity for Kids

Fun Communication and Leadership Activity for Kids - Parenting Like HannahHave you ever had a nasty boss? Or a mean neighbor? If so, then you know what it is like to try and communicate with or be led by someone who has poor, if not ungodly, communication skills.

As Christians, we should all think of ourselves as leaders. Not in an egotistical – I get to be the boss of you – sort of way. Rather, we should be leaders to help others find God, learn what He wants them to do or help other Christians be more like Him. Often though, when Christians try to lead in these areas, their poor communication skills can do more harm than good.

So why not teach your kids healthy, godly communication skills before they can develop bad habits that hurt others? There’s a fun activity you can do to help them begin thinking about the best ways to lead with our words.

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