It’s been thirty years now since the first personal computers and cellphones began infiltrating almost all aspects of our everyday life. We’ve been dealing with technology long enough now to begin understanding the risk factors that we didn’t recognize early on. Parents today, in their heart of hearts, are beginning to understand the need to put down the screen and start relating more with their children in a way that builds personal, loving relationships.
The great news is that you can help your children experience and create positive relationships by learning and modeling what they need to learn in your home. In the process, you’ll discover how they learn and how prepared they are for real-world experiences like relating well with others in the workplace, social settings, and even their loving relationships in the future. Becoming relationally intelligent will have a positive impact on their health and future.
There are significant benefits to having screen-based relationships. We’re not asking you to ceremonially smash your smartphone. But what we are asking you to do is take time to learn how to build healthy relationships by being willing to first put down that digital screen. When you do, you’re not only benefiting your health and that of your children, but you are also influencing the imprint of their perspective on whether they had a “happy” or “unhappy” childhood.
Being happy in childhood isn’t linked to the absence of negative or difficult experiences. Instead, emotional happiness is linked to the very same thing that impacts their physical health: the degree of connected, caring relationships in their home!
The memories of individuals who knew they were deeply loved and cared for as children, even in a less-than-perfect home with failures and challenges (like most of ours), are the happiest and most remembered in adulthood.
Our definition of relational intelligence is an ability-based, applicational understanding of this phrase. You can model relational intelligence with your children as they watch you apply these relational skills as a parent and person.
The five elements of relational intelligence are progressive in that each element is foundational for the one that follows. In the same way, your child can’t run a race without first learning to walk, we know that developing a secure attachment with your child is foundational to every other element. A secure attachment encourages and enables them to fearlessly explore their world! Because they’re going to fall when they explore, through getting up and going again, they develop an unwavering resilience as a child. All of which leads to them making wise decisions and having a future-focused perspective for serving others as teenagers and adults.
• 1st Element—Creating the foundational need for SECURE ATTACHMENT
• 2nd Element—Paving a way for fostering FEARLESS EXPLORATION
• 3rd Element—Resulting in an UNWAVERING RESILIENCE that’s needed to overcome real-world relational challenges
• 4th Element—Becoming the platform for WISE DECISION-MAKING that’s essential and crucial for developing self-regulation
• 5th Element—Seeing life so hopeful it empowers FUTURE-FOCUSED SERVING of others.
Becoming relationally intelligent through face-to-face, in-person relationships is harder than posting a perfect social media picture or selfie. However, it is also immeasurably more beneficial to your children when you teach them how to engage, explore, love, serve, and relate well with real people!
Adapted from The Relationally Intelligent Child: Five Keys to Helping Your Kids Connect Well With Others by John Trent and Dewey Wilson (©2021). Published by Northfield Publishing. All rights to this material are reserved.