Kids celebrating birthday party and blowing candles on cake

by Educational Consultant, Lize Rech

Have you ever seen a child cry at his own birthday party? Have you ever gotten a stress headache worrying about whether everything will be just right at your own child’s party? I just spent a weekend of birthday parties with my 4-year old son, Mario. His birthday is looming around the corner. This seemed like a good opportunity to look at the emotions surrounding birthdays and using emotional intelligence to make them better for parents and kids. 

What should really be a joyous occasion of basic togetherness and celebration often turns into something dark and stressful…

Your nerves get frazzled about a month before the party … Where do you celebrate? What do you do? When do you fit your party in around hundreds of other birthdays being celebrated? How many people do you invite? What happens when you don’t invite so and so? It’s a veritable minefield of negative feelings.

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Recognizing patterns

Anxious, worried, frazzled. Do these emotions sound familiar?  Do you recognize the pattern? Recognizing patterns is a key competency within the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence framework. We define it as acknowledging frequently recurring reactions and behaviors.

When incidents happen again and again and when you feel that you’ve been here before, that you didn’t like it then and that you certainly don’t like it now, then it may be time to change something.

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Emotional intelligence means being smarter with our feelings. So, what is the solution?

Ask yourself these three questions –
  • What do I feel? Try to pinpoint the exact emotions and feelings.
  • What are my options? Can I change something? Can I change my feelings, my thoughts or my actions and will any of these changes have an impact on the overall experience?
  • What do I really want?

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Know, Choose, Give: (KCG)

This is the KCG model used by Six Seconds. It is a really simple and easy way to be smarter with our feelings.

First of all you need to Know yourself. Clearly seeing what you feel and do.

Emotions are data, and these competencies allow you to accurately collect that information.
What do I feel?

The party is a week away.  To be honest I feel stress. I’m worried about the cumulative cost of the party. I’m dreading the parents of all these children that come to the birthday party. I feel protective because I want the party to be about us, our family unit, celebrating this important milestone.

You can Choose the best way to show up. This means doing what you mean to do.

Instead of reacting “on autopilot,” choosing allows you to proactively respond.

What are my options?

I could have not party at all. This is not really an option as my son is already looking forward to his party having attended several birthday parties this month. I could have a small party at home for a select few friends – this is probably my preferred option. I could bite the bullet, keep up with the Jones’ and go the whole nine yards …

Young mother with her son - circa 1975Finally, you have to Give consideration to your ultimate goal in life. Giving means doing it for a reason. These competencies help you put your vision and mission into action so you lead a life of purpose and with full integrity.

What do I really want?

For me personally family is the most important, so after consultation with my husband and son, I decided to just do what we are all comfortable with – a small intimate gathering for friends at home.

After completing these three steps I feel at ease. The stress is gone. I know that other parents will probably think it weird but that is their problem. I have to do what is best for my family and me. That is what makes me happy. Hopefully this EQ model will help other parents embrace birthdays or any other social decision with calm and clarity.

3a11f2cLize Rech is an educator with 15 years of experience in Education in the Middle East, teaching students of all ages.  She is passionate about understanding, supporting and being there to make a positive change in education in the Middle East.  She is an EQ Practitioner and has recently joined Six Seconds as Education Consultant for the Middle East, Africa and India. 

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Six Seconds supports people to create positive change - everywhere... all the time. Founded in 1997, the organization now has offices in 11+ countries and certified practitioners in over 100, and is the world's preeminent resource for putting emotional intelligence into action.

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