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The Why’s and How’s of Building Emotional Intelligence – Part 3
How does a child’s inborn temperament impact on his EQ?
Every child is born with a fixed temperament that cannot be changed because it’s related to the way his brain is naturally wired for processing information. Temperament is as fixed as eye colour.
Personality, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. Personality develops as the result of experience. It’s rooted in temperament, but it’s not the same thing. Like the parts of a plant that are visible above the soil, your child’s personality will be the part of him that other people will notice and experience when they are around him. And personality, unlike temperament, can be shaped. In fact, as a parent you are constantly shaping your child’s personality – even when you’re not consciously trying to! It just comes naturally.
Practically, this means that a child may be born with a natural tendency to be highly strung, experience feelings on an intense level and be deeply upset by negative emotions. But, with patient guidance and deep commitment from parents every child can develop a very emotionally stable personality, simply because he has learned to identify and manage his feelings.
What’s more, people who feel things more deeply often end up being exceptionally compassionate towards others because they find it easier to relate to the struggles that other people may be facing.
Is there a window of opportunity for the development of EQ?
Emotional development starts very early and literally continues throughout one’s lifespan. Babies learn about emotions even while they’re still in the womb, as they share in the emotional experiences of their mothers. Then, after they’re born, their ability to read and manage emotions continue to be shaped by their experiences through to old age. That’s what maturing is all about!