The Role of Life Skills in Emotional Intelligence.
University of Nairobi
Lecturer: Dr. L. Khasakhala
The growing body of scientific knowledge has found that the Intelligent Quotient (IQ) is a very narrow measure of an individual capabilities. It is worth noting that there are numerous individuals with high IQ scores but lack in people skills. This then becomes a major stumbling block for them in the quest for success. This observation pretty much confirms Daniel Goleman’s statement that: “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships , then it does not matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
This paper seeks to understand how emotional intelligence can in turn be transmitted to the younger generation through life skills training.
Keywords Emotional Intelligence. Life Skills. CITATION wik08 l 1033 (wikieducator, 2008) CITATION Mar06 l 1033 (Marc A. Brackett, 2006)Introduction
Life skills is has been defined by UNICEF (2014) as “psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enables individuals to deal effectively with demands and challenges of everyday life”. The essence of life skills is to create a clear understanding of the self and to translate individual beliefs, attitudes and values into interaction with the external environment.
The rationale for life skills training is to empower the youth with an arsenal of skills to overcome emotional impasses thus minimizing risk factors and maximizing protective factors. The capability of children making healthy and productive choices has been predicted to be enhanced through practice of life skills.
Life skills are classified in the following basic areas by the WHO Department of Mental Health:
Decision making and problem solving
Creative and critical thinking
Communication and interpersonal skills
Self-awareness and empathy
Coping with emotions and stressCITATION WHO90 l 1033 (Department of Mental Health, 1990)Emotional intelligence (EI)
Emotional intelligence is the capacity to process emotions and for emotions to enhance thinking CITATION Ens17 l 1033 (Ensari, 2017) . High EI is often associated with better interpersonal skills, ability to resolve emotional problems more effectively that others, strong verbal, social and other intelligences like decrypting non-verbal behavior. They are also less likely to partake of risky behavior.
Emotional intelligence has been classified into four areas:
Perception of emotions inclusive of both our emotions as well as those of others.
Use of emotions to facilitate and enhance cognition/thinking ability. Emotions tend to attract our focus to thoughts that elicited these reactions. As such they play an instrumental role in recall and prioritization of stimuli.
Understanding of emotions combined with the ability to reason and process the emotion
Regulation and management of emotions both in intra and interpersonal relations
Emotional intelligence impacts one’s perspective of life thus lowering susceptibility to mood disorders, anxiety as well as being overwhelmed by stress. Consequently, high EI results in healthy and successful lives.
It has been debated as to whether emotional intelligence is innate or a product of learning. Research has found that EI increases with age. In this case then, it can be argued that emotional intelligence can be learned and developed.
Role of Life Skills in Development of Emotional Intelligence
The Kenya Institute of Education categories life skills into three skills of understanding the self, the other and skills of effective decision making.
Understanding the self
Development of self-awareness and self –esteem.
In understanding the self, a child is taken through coping with emotions. This involves development of the ability to recognize, express and respond to various emotions. One is taken through understanding himself, exploration of one’s strength, weaknesses, opportunities they stand to gain and threats they face both internally and externally. Here one is able to utilize emotions felt to facilitate their thinking and hence action. For example: in acknowledging ones strengths and opportunities, it is possible to develop a sense of achievement, conscientiousness and optimism to self-motivate thus take initiative towards self-improvement.
Regulation of emotion involves being trained into being open minded and rationally dealing with situations. In this objective, distress tolerance and management of disruptive emotions effectively is also addressed. For example, through journaling and delayed action.
This involves proper attribution of stressors both within us and among others. Here one is taken through ways in which they can control levels of stress thus gaining adaptability and resilience when faced with adversity.
Understanding the other
This involves development of communication and interpersonal skills. To have meaningful relationships with others, we need to have understanding of other people’s feelings and needs. In this respect, development of empathy is natured which enables the person to be tolerant. Though accurate perception and understanding others emotions one is able to pattern their action in a manner that would not elicit negative emotions from the other person. The child is able to manage conflict amicably, initiate and manage change (development of leadership skills), cooperate and collaborate with others to generate meaningful relationships.
This results in increased confidence and the development of self-beliefs. It also enables the individual to respect the others perspective. With increased levels of self-confidence and acknowledgement of another’s perspective, one can develop assertive skills thus is able to resist peer pressure. Here the individual is equipped with the skill to safeguard their own values and beliefs.
Effective decision making.
This encompasses critical and creative thinking into coming up with solutions for adversity. Critical thinking involves rationally assessing the situation. Creative thinking is the ability to shift ones perspective and embrace new ideas or build up on an older plan. Creative thinking involves letting go of a school of thought which would mean being comfortable with disappointment. It also involves utilization of frustration to activate critical and innovative ideas to solve the situation at hand. As a result one looks upon the options available and makes decisions based on the most practical and least risky of possibilities.
Do Life Skills help in the development of Emotional Intelligence? It has been found that life skills play an instrumental role in the general cognitive and psychosocial development of adolescents. Those exposed to life skills training who adhere to these practices tend to be more emotionally intelligent. This is translated to other areas in their lives.
Through life skills training one is taken through behavior change which focuses on integrating ones knowledge, attitudes and capability. That is attitudes are horned to facilitate processing of ones knowledge into their capability as such improving performance. In this aspect, emotional development works concurrently with cognitive development. If one aspect develops devoid of the other the person is left inept.
With proper management and utilization of emotions then one is able to make and sustain relationships with peers. They are able to make rational decisions a key aspect in general life stages.
It is important that even for children who are being home-schooled to be taken through life skills training both at home (informally) and in school (formally).
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