Groundbreaking Theory: Kids Have Less Emotional Intelligence Than Adults

2 years.

Dear Jack,

You can’t always change how you feel, but you can choose to decide how you’ll react to how you feel.

In other words, emotions are automatic; behavior is controllable.

That’s the lesson I was forced to teach you today.

I’m not gonna lie. This morning was the most difficult morning I’ve ever had with you.

It was rough! For both of us. Simply exhausting.

After getting you through the front door, I picked up on the fact you weren’t able to let it go that “YouTube time” was over and you had to go to school.

As I attempted to buckle you in your car seat, you screamed at me while bowing out your back, making it impossible for me to strap you in without possibly bruising you, as you violently resisted me.

So I took away your graham crackers and toy train.

That got your attention. I was able to buckle you in your seat as your focus was no longer about fighting me and now you were just simply angry at me for taking away your pre-breakfast snack and morning ride entertainment.

I started up the car and turned around to explain to you the deal, as you began your hostile emotional meltdown:

“Jack, listen. I’m going to give you your crackers and your toy; all you have to do is just one thing: Calm down. That means if you simply stop crying for a few seconds and stop screaming, you’ll get what you want.”

Your response, in a faux German accent: “MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!!”

For the following 18 minutes, as I drove towards the interstate, it was a back and forth battle between the two of us: I would explain that all you had to do was calm down for a few seconds, you would retaliate with the equivalent of the Tasmanian Devil cursing.

I held a graham cracker in my hand just waiting for a 2 second pause in your crying. Finally, it happened. I slipped you one cracker.

Then you realized how it worked. If you calmed down, you got the very thing you were demanding.

By the second half of our drive to daycare, you had earned back all your crackers, as well as, your toy train.

Right now, at the age of 2, your emotional intelligence isn’t that high. Being able to manage your emotions is not easy for you.

So that means it’s my job to help you with that.

Your meltdowns seem to be triggered mainly when you are told no. Therefore, my main goal is to help you learn not to cry and get upset when I can’t, or won’t, give you what you want.

On the drive home tonight, I purposely avoided turning down the cul-de-sac with all the inflatable Snoopy Christmas yard decorations that you love to see. Instead, I wanted to test how you’d react.

Son, you did well. You accepted my rejection.

That means next time, you’ll definitely get to see Snoopy.

The more you can handle being told no, the more I will tell you yes.

I know it’s a struggle for you right now, but let me tell you, it’s even a challenge for me as an adult to be told no. I promise I know how you feel.





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  1. by rebecca

    On January 5, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I dont know who wrote this, but it is a literary masterpiece. Truly. Absolutely profound in its simplicity and nail-on-the-head with the meaning. Thank you to the writer for sharing this gem.