Like most three-year-olds, patience is something my little granddaughter (J) has very little of. When she comes round to see us, within minutes every toy is out. Within an hour she has painted, pummelled play dough, played shops and been outside on her bike!
This is quite normal, but as they say – patience is a virtue, and we all need to develop it at some point in our lives. Without making a big deal of it, I mention patience to J and how important it is. I know she has taken some notice as she talks about it to her mum.
Over the past few decades, there has been a new kid on the block – Emotional Intelligence/ Emotional Quotient (EI/EQ). In essence, EI is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It has been found that EI is as, if not more, important than IQ for predetermining how successful in life a child may become.
Emotional Intelligence is in part about delayed gratification and an understanding that some self-denial can provide dividends in the end. One example of this is staying in and revising versus going out and partying – a difficult choice for many 16-year-olds.
Unfortunately, there is very little we can do about IQ, but luckily, we can help children develop a stronger EQ. Patience is a key component of EQ, so the sooner we foster this in our grandbabes the better.
Two of the most enjoyable things for me to do are gardening and playing with the grandchildren; if you can combine them, then so much the better. I love getting out in the fresh air, being surrounded by the soft relaxing aroma of freshly turned earth and greenery. J, on the other hand, enjoys the garden for other reasons!
A couple months ago we visited a garden centre. She really enjoyed it! While we were there, we bought a packet of cress seeds; a children’s pack where seeds are sown on cotton wool and grow as if cress is the lawn of a house.
As we were planting the seeds, we chatted about what seeds are and how they contain all the goodness the little plants would need to grow. I showed her the seeds inside apples and pears and the stone from an avocado, explaining that they would also grow if we planted them. Of course, she asked if we could do just that.
I got caught up in J’s enthusiasm, and we set to work with her mini gardening set. She took it all very seriously insisting on “writing” on the labels.
I never cease to be thrilled by the capacity young children have to find fascination in absolutely anything.
As grandparents, we can harness our grandchildren’s innate curiosity, helping to foster a love of learning. We are often impatient for babies to talk – and then regret it in the wake of all the “whys” that incessantly follow us around!
I believe we should try to answer all those whys to the best of our ability. Experience as parent, teacher and grandparent has taught me that children process as much of your answer as they can and discard the rest. We have no way of knowing which bits they will retain, although often more than we think.
Learning through play is something we hear a lot about and as grandparents we are especially well-placed to provide just that. Getting in touch with your inner child is a wonderful experience, opening up new horizons even after 60.
J and I thoroughly enjoyed our gardening. She took her cress seeds home with strict instructions to keep them moist and to look at them every day for signs of germination – yes, she loved that word! I was left with the avocado and fruit seeds after promising to look after them properly.
Within a week, the cress had fully grown so J and her mum had egg and cress sandwiches for tea.
Over the next six weeks, the avocado stone gradually opened until one day a half inch shoot had appeared. The apple and pear seeds stubbornly refused to show their heads so I put them outside. Monitoring the growth of the avocado kept J’s interest in the seeds alive.
Last week, a couple of tiny green shoots appeared. J’s interest and patience had been rewarded – one more step towards the development of a healthy EQ – and an even closer bond between Grandma and J.
How have you tried to teach lessons of patience to your grandchildren? Are there particular interests that you share? How do you see Emotional Intelligence play out in people’s success? Please share in the comments.