Archives for posts with tag: psychology is growth

01_Touchscreen_#infographic_for_school-psych_Page_1Movie director Ron Howard, in his film Parenthood, seats Steve Martin and Mary Steenbergen in front of a dour elementary school Principal.  She lands the first blow. “We don’t think Kevin should come back here next Fall.  I’m going to recommend that he be transferred to a school that offers special education classes.”

Dad risks a guess. “Because he’s so smart?” (Don’t rule it out.) “Well, actually, I mean a class for children with emotional problems,” the Principal continues.  (Seems Kevin’s been pretty anxious.)  In breezes an unwelcome surprise guest: one “Dr. Lucas” who should NOT be introducing himself at THIS stage. But here he is. Ron Howard is crafting very bad psychologist indeed. He has “been observing Kevin for the past couple of months.” (REALLY?)

CUT!    Who hired these Un-Professionals?  Yes, Hollywood DOES have license to show them as seen through these poor parents’ glazed eyes.  But Ron!

WHERE did you get such ethically bankrupt and autocratically insensitive educators?  (Not to mention, badly dressed.)

WHY are you trading on our anxieties about special ed, just for a bit of plot-thickening?

HOW can any psychologist, anywhere, get to observe and assess child without even asking the parents AND make a placement recommendation that looks pretty final?

MOREOVER:  On its own, anxiety is the LAST reason to make the little guy change schools, Ron.  It’s a great reason to keep him right where he is.  Special educators know this. Staff who are familiar to Kevin seek School Psychology consultation. They then support his school adjustment (storeys B & C at right). This in turn supports his achievement (Storey A at right).

Tough on Parents?  Needlessly, in this case. “Mr. Buckman, this is a public school” adds the Principal.  (Really? Why is it just now feeling like a back office of the Mob?)  At its best, but admittedly not everywhere, modern special education can be so inspiring that parents fight to get their kids into it.  Evidence-based teaching practices are the mainstay.  Assistive technologies such as laptops loaded with specialized software, SmartBoards (touch-screen whiteboards) and math apps that let you lay out equations textbook-style, edit and and graph them; are examples of cutting-edge accommodations that help level the playing field for students with unusual profiles.

Flexible, Powerful Teaching and Learning Strategies.  Ontario  students are among the more fortunate, participating in this deep cultural shift.  This movement began with UNESCO’s 1990 Declaration on Education for All.  Best practices are not always expensive.  Even developing countries get more for each education dollar

Look for a school culture that is strongly inclusive.

Two basics apply here.  First, instil in students the shared goal of success for all. Second, proactively build cohesion and problem-solving BEFORE the inevitable bullying emerges.  Restorative Practices, based on Native justice circles, is perhaps the best example.

Where does that leave competition in the classroom?  Lost in the past.  Sympathies to all parents who ever dreamed that their child would be clapped and cheered by classmates for beating them all.  Success is its own reward.   Rare is the teacher who is still stuck in the competition era.  They have long ago lost touch with the system’s growth in values.  Yes, there MUST always be scholarships and medals.  Healthy schools save for those triumphs for commencement; and Most Improved Student is among them.

What does special education really look like today? The answers are as diverse as students’ needs.  From sensitive and brilliant individual programming for the child with autism; to the high-octane stimulation and support offered by a best-practices Gifted teacher.  In every profession there are inequalities in expertise.  But specialist teachers are a highly motivated crew and their upgrading is continual.

So, why do many of us, as parents, still fear even something as mild as a diagnosis of Learning Disability or Attention Deficit Disorder?

We presume that labels limit our child’s academic future and career.  This is upside down, since rights and advocacy have taken hold.  Marks are all that the School Board can transmit to post-secondary institutions. But those institutions now have their own learning support systems.  You are admitted on your merits, THEN you send your diagnosis and apply for Accessibility (Learning Strategist; Assistive Technologies; accommodations).

If stigma makes us maroon the students’ broader abilities by not meeting specific functional learning needs, then we DO limit their futures.  Even school behaviour issues, a parent’s worst nightmare, respond to sophisticated best practices.  So how do we get our heads around the key issues, ask the right questions and make the right moves on our kids’ behalf?

Ask for the big picture.  Educators and administrators are often careful to not overwhelm us with information beyond the immediate scenario.  If you give them permission to explain the broader prospects and options, often you will usually get an enthusiastic response.  “Response to Intervention” (RTI) is now the first-line approach.  In early grades, we have better and better remedial methods that serve a preventative role.  (A best-case example is the Empower Reading program developed at Hospital for Sick Children.)  RTI is special education, writ-small. If it helps, but not enough, then we look at more formal psychological assessment; toward identification as an Exceptional Learner.

Listen to your child without bias.  Their school experience will come across differently to you, as parent, versus what they say to an educator.  Don’t expect them to be necessarily consistent.  Most kids don’t know how to express inner conflict until adolescence or close-on. In time, they will to learn to say, “Part of me thinks essay conferencing is working; and part of me just thinks it’s too confusing.”  (Maybe the’re not said to the same person, either.)  Don’t confront them with their inconsistencies when they are first learning to resolve conflicting views even adults can struggle with.

Understand the Four Levels of Growth.  One way to quickly grasp a child’s needs for special education is to ask questions based on the four-level graphic alongside this article.

Achievement;

Behaviour;

Clinical concerns versus emotional health; and

Development (physical, motoric, cognitive, language . . . )

form a necessary self-supporting structure, similar to the fancifully tall four-storey school building pictured above. (The image here is of very limited resolution. A fully detailed version is available from the author: psychologyisgrowth@live.ca .)  Practitioners of school psychology can tell you which levels are involved; and what the next steps are, at each storey.

Get involved.  Anything you can do for your child’s school tends to be received with true gratitude; and helps build collaboration.  Parent involvement is such a priority that it is one focus of recent amendments to the Education Act (Bill 177; Sept. 2010).

Support your child’s self-concept.  We may come to laugh at stigma but for adolescents it is rarely a laughing matter.  All bets are off, for how teen peer groups will respond to a student’s Identified status. Your teen’s self- advocacy may just have to wait until post-secondary years.  Privacy of his or her identification is impossible to maintain. Ironically,  attempts at privacy would just fuel stigma. Celebrate strengths and recognize needs.  Everyone else can ‘get over it.’

Know your rights.  Educators in general are highly respectful of them.  While it is possible to approve some parts of a recommended programming but not others, DO be careful that you don’t block your child’s broader options by disagreeing with one essential piece.   Be aware that special education ‘labels’ (identification categories) often sound worse than they are.  “Communication; Learning Disabled” is often a sought-after category.  In it, the child is understood to have Average potential or better; but MUST have special education to fulfill it, without undue agony.

In some boards, “Autism” is the only administrative label under which complex multiple needs get help; even if it is not the actual diagnosis.

Look farther afield.  Interventions and supports from agencies like Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, JVS Toronto, Canadian Attention Deficit Disorder Resource Alliance and private psychological services can each make a substantial difference.  Special educators, psychologists and some psychology-savvy physicians can guide you to them.

Be aware:

Public educators can’t actually recommend private assessment–That creates an impression that the system is broken.  Of course, the system is more cash-strapped than outright ‘broken.’

Like all public resources, it has to priorities the most urgent needs.  Usually the most they can do is respond clearly, when you finally do ask about private psychology.

Include “Psychological Associates” when you search for private services.  Many PA’s have extensive school board experience.  They are fully independent practitioners and diagnosticians, with an MA rather than PhD.  The College of Psychologists certifies and regulates both at the exact same level.

Attend all the meetings.  There are three levels.  (1) A SERT conference explains learning needs and offers options. You may want other professionals there, too.  (2) IEP or Individual Education Plan.  Rubber meets road. This document specifies concrete steps.  Even your homework support can be more effective with IEP guidance. If diagnostics are recommended, results go to a Board committee called (3) IPRC. This provides legally binding  recognition of  rights to special education.

Focus on what’s possible.  Funding levels and staff training spaces are not what administrators and specialists would wish.  If you get frustrated, you can bet they are too.  A dose of reality has to be swallowed every time an IPRC committee weighs a child’s needs against available placements and resources.

Take the long view until your child can. Even our teens have mostly minimal mind share for ‘the future.”  Tossing around the possibilities for program choices briefly but often is a growth experience for them.  School Guidance is really only the second level, built on top of the thoughtfulness that parents instil about this, from day to day.

Be politically aware.  Many Canadian provinces pushe the special-education envelope, whenever they can.  American legislation may be ahead of ours on paper, but our overall resources-in-place are probably ahead of most U.S. jurisdictions.  Some urban areas such as Toronto face special challenges due to complex demands on their education systems.

Finding out more: 

The Ministry’s book-length PDF, Education for All, lays out recent best practices for core math and reading.  Though written for educators in grades K-6, contains overview segments useful to parents.  The follow-up, Learning for All addresses grades K-12.  Autism publications include Effective Educational Practices for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. For attentional disorders and executive function, we are just at the outset of special education rights.  CADDRA and CADDAC are twin organizations which seek to improve treatment and education for students with these highly workable conditions.  While attentional disorders are not recognized by the Ministry as a cognitive learning disorder, they are the next frontier.

© 2012 Ken McCallion, Registered, MA CPsych Assoc

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Mental health in schools is kind of like mental health anywhere else. Building and maintaining it both depend on a great many things ‘going  right.’ So how can a parent, or for thDSL for Parents 2013at matter even a hard working teacher, even get the big picture of a student’s school day? Of what they are going through?  One place to start is to piece together all available professional input and to organize it in ways that make sense to the average person. Luckily, stacking things in a bio-psychological way (symbolized by the ridiculously tall school house here) makes sense of a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s also consistent with newer ways of looking at mental health. But this approach is going to be the subject of a workshop at Canadian Mental Health Association in June, by me, so respecting the limits of not double-publishing material now promised to the CPA, I’ll have to ask folks to wait at least until mid June before  say more. (The concept map shown here was previously web-published.) In the meantime, this is the active team approach already in use at Psychology is Growth.

BE THE FIRSTYEAR STUDENT WHO CAN WRITE

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Professor and seminar group(ONTARIO) “Try writing like Helen over there. She can give you some tips.”  Prof. Claritti’s comment is a bit out there, for the lecture hall. But he means well. He likes Jac’s concepts. When he can find them.

Jac got into his first-pick university because his high school averages soared. – On wings of math and science.  Now, these strict, First Year expectations for smooth, clear, concise writing are hitting Jac like a line-drive to the gut. Feedback notes on his lab reports and essays seem ‘blind’ to Jac’s best efforts.

Jac never needed special education. High school teachers consistently ‘tolerated’ his writing because he was a strong student overall (if sometimes a big show-off). His teachers had other issues to address . . .

peer editing

Teachers never had cause enough to get Jac to practice key strategies. For example:

   -Note-taking while Reading then Outlining.

   -Listen to the ‘sound’ of writing you like. 

   -Write the Abstract & Conclusion, then fill in.

   -Have a friend read your draft to you, aloud, and without commenting.

Whether you form a study group with stronger writers, hire a private tutor, or qualify for learning disability Access Centre and BSWD for software like Kurzweil and WordQ, you’re among many first-year students who have a wall to climb, just to raise their writing to expected levels. If a disability is truly unlikely, just max-out your campus network by trading your highest skills for writing guidance and arm’s length editing. -And keep your ethics. Even when a friend is happy to trade in theirs.    KM 

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The cases below are entirely fictional and based on many years of clinical experience.
Sibling_rivalry_theupbeatdad_com

[ Toronto ] How do they come up with this stuff? Whether that’s truth or more likely, fantasy, it hurts, badly.  In Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber & Elain Mazlish,  nicely reined-in Alfred Adler’s  idea that the ‘will to power’ among sibs was always the big deal. — It depends.  Then Melitta Schmideberg  opened our eyes to the parentified child who gets to be boss, but suffers for it in the end.  Most recently, thoughtful minds like Kristin Caspers and her colleagues have been unfolding mysteries of sibling attachment.  One reason it’s still a bit of a schmaz is that we haven’t seriously looked at sibs through the lens of their inborn differences; that first layer of personality which we call inborn temperament.  Wouldn’t you love to know your child’s inborn layer of personality?  Try this:   http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/insights/profile 

To get a quick read on each of your offspring, be they alike in temperament or not at all, you can complete the above, New York University 38-item online questionnaire WITHOUT giving any identifying data.  Click SUBMIT and you’ll see a four-column chart that just may become a go-anywhere mnemonic for you. (There’s also a teachers’ version, on the same site.)

Temperament is a latin word that suggests different ‘colourings.’ To put this another way, as babies, we come in different emotional flavours. And that, fellow parents, plays mightily into how each of us responds to our own “little, live-in Zen Masters” (as Jon Kabat-Zinn once called them).

SUCCESS STORIES

Most of us can remember at least one pair of sibs who shouldn’t be allowed to get along so darn well. It makes rest of us feel bad.  Odds are that both of them felt safely connected to at least one of their parents.  These two sibs are among the fortunate few who enjoy a secure bond (as an attachment psychologist would say). They may have sibling tiffs, but their war games never extend to that classic, calculated, surgical strike against self-esteem, which so shocks parents and dismays peers. A friend who grew up as the eldest once confessed to me that he, along with his second sib, convinced Sib 3 that she was adopted—As if that would be a problem.  But, to an innocent four year old, you bet.  Their parents dealt with that one, mighty quick.  Much healing ensued.  And it seems that some sib pairings in this family got a little stronger, once kids realized how serious their parents were, about treating everyone equally.

I SAWED YOU GET BORNED! YOU WERE DISGUSTING!

Why would an elder sib aim so low?  Because, at least in the formative years, their own self-esteem is the flip side of their security with parents.  The less secure we feel, the less valuable we feel, and so, the more we try to cut that seemingly favoured sibling down to size.  Enter parental problem-solving.  Most of us will be tempted to say to our child, “That was really immature/low/beneath you/small of you.” Here we go, saying this to the very child who almost certainly feels, despite our most loving efforts, less valued right now. They are just choosing an inappropriate way to fend off that feeling.  This situation is so common for elder sibs, in relation to the next child, that most psychologists once thought it was inevitable. (Hence the ‘dethronement’ concept.)  That was before John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth changed our view of child-parent bonds forever.  As the Gershwin brothers would say, It Ain’t Necessarily So.

“MY KIDS FEEL SECURE WITH ME.”

“So they won’t be doing that.”  You may be bang on. Enjoy this great blessing. Your grandchildren stand a good chance of inheriting this blessing as well. Quit reading now and send this post to three friends who are a bit less lucky. In Canada and the United States at least, most of us are wrong when we assume that our kids feel consistently secure with us.  It’s tricky stuff, for most parents, to build durable security with each child. It’s especially so, if our kids are born different from each other. That usually means one child’s inborn temperament is more like the parent’s, while another child’s temperament is unlike the parent’s. Psychologists call this ‘temperament goodness-of-fit.’  Having a difficult fit with our child doesn’t prevent us from building attachment security.  It just makes it trickier.  Child and parent don’t really ‘get’ each other, at first. A parent with strong emotions may, for example, have to work harder to tune into Sarah, than to Samir . . .

SARAH & SAMIR – INTO THE BREACH

Samir freaks out at the sight of their common friend’s blood in a serious injury.  Bravely, shakily, tearfully, he helps open the bandages and dials 911. Sarah thinks everyone’s being rather dramatic about it all.  She doesn’t help until she’s directly told to, as clearly and calmly as possibly, being told the exact steps she must take, right now:  “Sarah, you need to get a blanket from the closet and come straight back. Good. Now open the blanket and put it over your friend. Good. Now stand at the door and watch for the ambulance. And Sarah, this is going well, because you’re helping.”  Neither child acted out.  Both deserve equal recognition.  Sure, it was harder for Samir, emotionally.  But Sarah probably learned more, ethically. She’s now a better team member. Let’s not take that away from her, by asking ‘why’ she needed to be ordered (gently) into it.  She just did.

MACKLIN & DION: WHY CAN’T YOU TWO JUST LEARN TO GET ALONG?

Sib to sib, inborn differences can be confusing and frustrating. They have a lot less experience with this stuff than their parents.  Macklin loves sports and contests and kids’ novels and chess.  Dion can’t stand any of those. Dion draws and paints and asks deep questions at dinner—whereupon Macklin rolls his eyes and tries to leave the table. One of the worst parenting responses we can make is to insist that Macklin and Dion spend more time together, find some common interests or ‘just learn to get along.’ (What does that even mean?)  In a way, we are telling both of them both to please, not be themselves.  Polite, considerate and distant may all they ever are, with each other, for decades.  That is not a failure of parenting. It is a success.  If both of them reach some level of security with at least one parent, odds are, they will both grow up to have friends, understand themselves somewhat, and achieve at their potential.  As adults, if they care, and they work at it, they will discover unsuspected, interesting aspects of each other—and therefore, of themselves.  No blame in coming late to that party. As kids, they simply weren’t meant to be so close.

SOMMAYAH & JULIA:  THE PLOT SICKENS

Sommayah (16) and Julia (14) were not on equal footing.  Julia was falling behind in school.  Her parents reduced her screen time on all devices to two hours a day and bought her the cheapest !@#$%^&*! cell phone EVER, with only texting and calling. It would be confiscated if used in class.  Sommayah, doing well in school, had no such restrictions.  She loved her sister but didn’t quite ‘get’ her, emotionally.  At lunch time, Sommayah neglected to introduce her sister to a group of her new friends when the two sisters ran into them.  After a few agonizing minutes, Julia left, hiding her tears.  Getting home first, Julia hid some of her mother’s best jewellery in Sommayah’s room (usually a much younger child’s stunt, but Julia was really losing it here).  She was expressing her view of Sommayah as seemingly the ‘thief’ of parental affection—and of course, trying to get her in trouble. Fortunately, Sommayah had a change of after-school plans and discovered the stunt before her mother did, but felt deeply hurt by her sister. Their parents arrived home to find both girls in tears, and trading loud litanies of past hurts.  They would not speak to each other, for weeks.

Once in a while, sibling rivalry may contribute to truly unhealthy child or teen behaviours.  This family may have a need for evidence-based behavioural consultation. (In more involved cases, one child might also have a diagnosable, treatable disorder.) The rivalry itself can be treated too. But it is neither the symptom nor the cause. It just is. When the treatment team includes a psychologist who understands temperament and attachment, then treating the behaviour (or disorder) will almost always strengthen child-parent attachment, too. Then the rivalry has fewer emotions driving it, and becomes likely to respond to behavioural work (or just fade out).

Sommayah and Julia both went to therapy with separate therapists, but Julia, more-so. Both had the option of inviting a parent to sit in, any time. Both did.  In two months they were ready to take on full-fledged family therapy with an attachment-aware social worker.  Gradually they became peaceful siblings for the first time. One could begin to see that, when they truly need each other, they will always be there.

familiesonline_comBut who felt they learned the most?  The parents, of course.  They learned how very different their two daughters’ needs are, in emotional parenting terms.  Sommayah shrugs off public display of affection and is perfectly happy just knowing that her parents will listen, lovingly, whenever the need arises.  Emotionally, what Julia needs most from her parents is expressed warmth every day, frequent firmness (though soon she needed less-and-less of this) and well-timed, smiling, full-on reminders of parental confidence in her abilities.

Finally, they learned how Julia positively thrives when her different, emotional needs are understood as core aspects of who she is; and who she can become.  Julia became interested in social work because she recognized in the family therapist a person with strong emotions very like her own, and these actually made her pretty effective at her work.  And oh yes:  Julia DID eventually earn an upgrade, from that cell phone.

The above cases are entirely fictional and based on years of clinical experience.  

Ken McCallion, Registered, MA, CPsych Assoc (Ontario)

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WHERE DOES ATTACHMENT ‘COME FROM?’

son & mother - attachment

(ONTARIO) From the heart, of course. But so many parent who have lots of heart still struggle with it.  Take comfort in the fact that you are in the majority.  –A large majority actually, at least in Canada and the U.S.  Blame it on technologically focused society, hyper-mobility or the six-day corporate work week, for decades now (at a minimum) most of us have been growing up with overriding, child-parent ‘issues.’  That is: Most of us as parents have our own attachment 

These are typically the big pieces, in how each of us manages the relationship, with each child we have. For most of us, our own uncertainties about ‘how to be’ just plain get in the way.

WHAT? ARE YOU SAYING WE’VE ALL BECOME SELF-ABSORBED PARENTS? No.  It would be amazing if every one of us could always feel good about ourselves and about our child—and at the same time!  But unless you’re among the fortunate few (and it has very little to do with economics) who have grown up feeling over-archingly secure and con-fident your-self, or you have done some very advanced personal growth, that often turns out to be one !@#$%^&*! challenge.

WHAT IS CO-REGULATION? 

Father and son - attachment

How we learn to handle the toughest times and how we figure them out, as a child-parent ‘team’ makes all the difference.  How can two such unequal people truly be a team? That is the emotional genius of parental learning. We don’t have to be born to it, or be experts in anything, just to get there with our own child. No honest parenting expert out there got to be so, without paying their dues. But for most of us, it takes time. And it’s trickier if child and parent happen to be ‘born different.’  Child and parent can have different, inborn temperaments (from the latin for colouring—as in tempera paint.)  It’s quick, easy and enlightening to get a read on your own child’s temperament just by going to Prof. Sandee McClowry’s website at NYU’s School of Nursing:

http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/insights/

SATI Blank Profile - Cropped

You won’t have to give any identifying information and you’ll immediately get a parent-friendly, memorizable profile that looks like this, with X’s where your child’s four basic temperament factors stand. You’ll also strike a blow against the tyranny of psycho-logical tests that only clinicians can give and interpret.

–In truth, these tests are invaluable, when needed.  But, as parents, many of us feel empowered when we realize psychologists do NOT have a monopoly on guided insight. There’s simply no need to keep all of it behind the jewelry counter. McClowry’s book, Understanding Your Child’s Unique Temperament helps us take next steps.

Bonding is much easier when child and parent both have the same, inborn, foundation layers of their personalities. But how many times have you heard a parent exclaim: “OMG, what is with Kid-2, here?— My first one was so easy!” (Or the exact opposite.)  We simply come in different emotional flavours, right from the start.

OK, SO WHERE’S THE QUICK ‘N’ EASY PARENT TEMPERAMENT PROFILE?  

Great idea!  But our temperament gets overlain with other layers of our person-alities, throughout life:  our own  childhood bonds with either parent; our social learning with peers; and finally, what we each build on top of all that:  our adult self-concept. Still, in our closest relationships, where we truly must be, or can’t avoid being our truest selves, our natural, inborn differences re-emerge. Stuff that our colleagues would never guess would push our hot buttons can be ridiculously easy for a family member to target if they’ve had too much stress (and for some reason, you seem to be part of it).

Bonds - Market Share- best resolution

Now, none of us would like to admit it, but we can find ourselves doing the exact same thing with our own kids when we’ve had too much stress. That can confuse both child and parent. But as parents, we can learn to bridge that gap. When we do, we show our child: Not only can I comfort you when you’re scared; not only do I too recall having that kind of disgusted, overexcited or stunned feeling, but even when I mess it up as your parent, I can still figure it out. (Or if you can’t, at least now you know what kind of help will actually help.)

Mother & Son - Pat-a-Cake

Through co-regulation, we show our child that growing up never ends. Self-regulation is the magic of how kids can then keep building, more independently, on that.

Ken McCallion, Registered, MA, CPsych Assoc

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WHAT, WE’RE MAKING BUZZWORDS AGAIN?

Chimp bottle-nurses tiger cub RTR2VPTI_RTR2PG91_640

[TORONTO] We are right to be leery of each and every new psychological term that tries to invade our lives.  We’re not about to fall for a repackaging of something we already bought.  Nor do we need to live up to some diabolical new yardstick for job performance, school progress or (worst of all) self-worth. And in truth, emotional intelligence (EI) is not new. It is simply a neglected part of ‘intelligence’ itself, even as IQ test-builder David Wechsler defined it, back in 1940.   He meant this concept to include all abilities we need, to develop and to achieve, on our own terms.  But he never presumed to pack all that into one handy test kit. Others began filling gaps. Today, measures of emotional self awareness, other-awareness and problem-solving are much stronger predictors of school success, career success and social satisfaction than any cognitive test you name. Now, the ‘testing’ of EI is in its infancy, but the work thus far by Mayer, Salovey and Caruso on their measure dubbed the MSCEIT at least demonstrates proof of concept and seems to have some actual problem-solving usefulness in adults’s lives. (Building child and adolescent versions of any whole new type of test tends to be trickier and can take longer.) The MSCEIT ahs not yet reached the status of an ‘evidence-based intervention’ to which your clinician should conscientiously turn, every time you or your friend or your adult child comes in feeling tortured by interpersonal emotional miscommunication or just realizing they can barely name their feelings after living with them for 40 years.

 SO, CLEAR SELF-EXPRESSION IS IMPORTANT. NOT NEW!

True, but reptiles can do that.

panther chameleonWhat our cold-blooded cousins are not so good at is managing the complex interplay of each other’s emotions, in ways that lead to supporting child development and later, to achieving shared goals.  That’s a triumph of the mammalian mind. We can take the most unlikely,unpromising situations and turn them to the benefit of all parties—or not.

ASK ANY  SEASONED PROJECT MANAGER,

much-loved parent or happy classroom teacher.  In fact, ask the U.S. military. Using EQ-i testing to select recruiters saved the Air Force nearly 3 million dollars.  (Maybe you thought an idea that sounds so warm and cozy just had to be a feel-good campaign; a consultant’s boondoggle.)

HAVEN’T WE GOT RELIGION, FOR THIS?

religions_symbolsm

Good point. In fact, Daniel Goleman, a key author in the field, has heard from faith leaders across a broad range of traditions, that EI looks like one way to measure the human qualities

that their faith teachings and community inspire. Sadly, the EI of self-defense is just as important as community. So don’t blink.

WHAT IF MY ADMINISTRATION WON’T BUY THIS, MY CHILD’S TEACHERS CAN’T GET TRAINING AND I’M NOT FEELING SO AMAZINGLY ‘EI’ MYSELF? 

Then you would  be in good company with a lot of folks. But there is much you can do, on your own. If you already practice traditional, Indian yoga, traditional martial arts (such as Tae Kwon Do) or mindfulness meditation, then you’re probably already good at recognizing and managing many of your own emotions.  If you’ve gained ground in a psychological therapy that promotes recognizing of others’ emotions, and emotional problem-solving (such as emotion-focused therapy, child-parent attachment work or interpersonal therapy) then you have also increased your skills in perception of others’ emotions; your reach and depth of reflective thought; and your total range of responses from which you can wisely choose before speaking or acting.

talking mouth thCA981SLW

Book-clubbing a major EI author or two (see below) or reading-up with a trusted friend or your partner, then discussing how EI skills play out in your daily lives, can help. Journaling about situations at work or home, predicting outcomes of your response options, is invaluable. And remember:

SCHOOLS NEED VOLUNTEERS AS MUCH AS PARENTS NEED KIDS TO HELP AROUND HOME.

kindergarten hard at work - clipboardThoughtful, adult team-work in a ‘safe’ place where you are not being constantly evaluated, and don’t have to focus on parenting, is a great proving-ground for new EI skills. Most parent volun-

teers feel appreciated—hugely. And you may find an educator on a similar journey of growth.  And by the way:

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING (SEL)

is just school talk for teaching EI skills in the classroom. SEL programs improve student behaviour, reduce peer-on-peer aggression and raise academic achievement levels.  And EI level itself better predicts the student’s career trajectory than top marks.

THIS SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF WORK.

psycho-babble muscle_brain colour adjustedIt can be, especially if one had a parent (or two) who had their own trouble cult-ivating EI skills of any kind. And some of us are just plain born with greater challeng-es around developing EI.  So-called ‘trait’ EI does not come naturally to all.  The great news is that over time, ‘skill EI’ can be learned by pretty much anyone. It can go a long way in compensating for lack of trait EI.  People who make progress in skill EI report stronger self-esteem, trusting bonds and work effectiveness.

POSITIVE LEADERSHIP =  LOADS OF EI

School TeamIf you’re struggling in a leadership role, bring forward, in your reporting relationship, the track record of corporate EI training. There’s no down-side; just a startling upside.

 

Business Case for Emotional Intelligence  http://www.eiconsortium.org/reports

Women in Leadership http://t.co/PgiBRNSPD3

EI predicted success levels in nursing school  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23660239

Social-Emotional Learning in Schools  http://www.edutopia.org/social-emotional-learning