A child acquires skills and imbibes certain behavior by keen observation of the environment he/she lives in on a daily basis. Children “model” their parents, friends, peers, teachers in mannerisms and behavior. For example, if a child sees a parent watching TV while eating, then the child feels that it is an accepted behavior. So, if you reprimand the child for throwing a tantrum to watch TV while eating, the child will be either confused or will sulk; this leads to disciplinary issues for the parent and behavior issues for the child. Teaching life skills to children begins at a very early stage, we teach them what is right and what is wrong. But, are we teaching them to be socially conscious or pushing them to be socially inept with today’s technology?
What is Social Intelligence (SI)?
The theory of social intelligence was first brought to the forefront by American psychologist Edward Thorndike in 1920. He defined it as, “The ability to understand and manage men and women and boys and girls, to act wisely in human relations.” We need to understand ourselves, our emotions to understand others and their emotions. This will help in connecting with individuals, to form healthy relationships. Social Intelligence is a learned skill like learning reading or writing. It is a soft skill that needs to be taught to children by teaching them high-frequency feelings, emotions, behaviors, and patterns of social skills. A parent is very proud that his/her child knows how to operate a mobile phone initially, the same parent after a decade or so complains that the child is glued to the mobile phone and does not respond properly. We often notice that many individuals are able to converse properly on an online medium but are very poor conversationalists in person, this is because they have become socially inept, interacting in person is a difficult task and they are unable to see you in the face or eyes and speak.
Parents indirectly seem to be veering their children from engaging in social relationships. From an early age, children are taught that ‘they should be seen and not heard’. But does this hold ground in today’s fast-paced world? Are we as parents not thwarting our child’s evolution as a social being? Only when a child in his growing years gets the opportunity to mingle and be an important component of a large group are, we are steering him towards his development as a social individual and the overall development of humans at large.
These situations can be easily avoided by developing social skills and increasing social intelligence. One fine example is Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin was known as “The Harmonious human multitude” because of his notorious Social intelligence. As a young man, Benjamin was a very naive person and suffered a lot before he became socially intelligent.
According to Daniel Goleman, a highly respected Psychologist from Harvard University – our brains are designed to be sociable. When we engage ourselves with other people our brains release hormones in our bodies allowing us to feel different emotions. Talking and linking with one another creates a connection which becomes the foundation in the relationship we form affecting our biology from everything, from the heart to the immune system. Social intelligence is very important for us to learn and study to further invest ourselves to maximize our full potential.
This leaves us with a volley of questions: Am I able to make a good impression on others? Am I known as someone who is a problem solver? Am I able to be prominently dominant and assertive when needed? Do I demonstrate understanding and patience with others’ beliefs and values?
These are but a few of the tormenting thoughts which plague many a person. The need of the hour is to rise above the obstacles and emerge a winner as far as superior social relationships are concerned.
A child who is given an opportunity to develop Social intelligence at an early age will go a long way in seamlessly integrating into any society that he /she may have to encounter.