What do children and their adults need to learn to build strong, mutually supportive relationships? And, how can these relationships sustain and nourish the rights of children that are recognized on Universal Children’s Day?
Check out this 1-minute video about what it takes to build good relationships, and why they are part of the #EQChildrensDay campaign.
What makes a positive relationship?
Recognizing the value of someone else?
Acknowledging the interdependence that we have with other people in our lives?
Being open to the feelings that emerge when we experience a close connection to someone?
These are all key elements of strong relationships, those interactions that lead to extraordinary fulfillment, even though, at times, they can be challenging.
Remember that relationships carry their own reward:
The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.Charles Kuralt
This month we’re celebrating Universal Children’s Day, which marks the signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The first week of our global celebration focused on self-awareness, how personal insight, for both children and adults, forms the basis for mutual trust and empathy. How identifying and understanding our own emotions can enrich our lives and put us in tune with the larger world.
For this second week, we want to highlight the power of strong relationships and how they can help children flourish. If self-awareness is the first step to increasing wellbeing, then having powerful relationships, reaching beyond ourselves, is the second. And these relationships can be of many different types: parent-child, teacher-student, friend-to-friend, and many others.
Trust is the Measure of Relationships
At the heart of strong relationships is a profound sense of trust. One of the Six Seconds practitioners recently told a story about wanting to become a better parent. He worried that he was enacting patterns with his own children that he had learned as a child, exhibiting the yelling that his father had subjected him to. In a moment of insight, he realized that his children could “coach” him to manage his anger better by strengthening his relationship with them. By placing his trust in them to let him know if he was acting out this pattern, he was able to intervene in his own behavior and bring their relationship to a new level.
Trust is an emotional message of safety and connection. There’s a neurohormone of trust, oxytocin, and it’s produced when we feel close to others. It’s a way for our bodies and brains to say: This is someone who is on my side, and that seems to be an essential ingredient in relationships… and one reason good relationships are at the heart of cultivating children’s rights.
Strong Relationships and Children’s Rights
What is the connection between strengthening relationships and promoting the rights of children? To take just one example, a key provision in the Convention on the Rights of the Child is that all children have the right to express themselves. To allow children to express themselves means that others have to learn how to listen, how to really hear what the child is saying.
Actually listening to one another is a huge challenge. It takes patience, and openness, and wonder, and commitment. It takes being emotionally intelligent and caring about the quality of the relationships we have with the children in our lives, whether we are a parent, a relative, a teacher, or a friend. It means that we all must recognize that others want the same rights that we want for ourselves. Remember, people have rights, and children are people!
To develop this kind of mutually respectful relationship, one of the key emotional intelligence skills is empathy. That means tuning into one another’s feelings — and valuing those feelings. Empathy is a learnable skill, and one parents and teachers can share with children.
Working Together to Build Strong Relationships
This second week of the Universal Children’s Day celebration again features many valuable resources and activities that you can use and become involved in. You can find these tools by visiting the EQ library, here.
Volunteers around the world are also sharing a special workshop for week 2 focusing on EQ for Improved Relationship. Using the metaphor of favorite foods, we will consider the ingredients of great relationships (e.g., teacher-student, parent-child, child-child). Then we’ll use the concept of Brain Styles to explore different ways people bring those ingredients into action. It’s not too late to sign up if you want to present this to your group!
We believe that strengthening relationships through emotional intelligence paves the way for mutual empowerment, authentic self-expression, and respect for the rights of others. The path to ennobling ourselves and others is through strong relationships.
Even Taylor Swift says, “In a relationship each person should support the other; they should lift each other up.”
In honor of Universal Children’s Day, let’s take special care to build these rights-sustaining relationships.
Three key action steps:
Relationships are built by doing things together, so volunteer at your child’s school or join with others on a project that will help children in your community. Even small, intentional, acts of kindness are a powerful relationship-building form of service.
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