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  • Writer's pictureRusty McKie

Grow your EQ

Rachel and I hope our kids will grow up into mature individuals. Study after study shows that emotional intelligence helps people flourish in life.

Here are three questions we regularly ask (often around the dinner table) to help our kids grow their EQ.

These questions are simple enough for a child, yet Rachel and I also benefit from them. Ask these questions to anyone you love as a way to understand one another better.

What are your highs and lows?

If you grew up in church, you probably recognize this question from a small-group experience.

I've always thought it corny, yet it's a subversive little question.

Asking someone's favorite and least favorite part of their day is a modern form of St. Ignatius' prayer of examen. St. Ignatius taught we all experience consolations and desolations — moments where we sense God's loving presence (consolations) as well as moments where God seems distant (desolations).

This self-reflective prayer helps us attune our inner world to experience God's loving presence more in the mundane moments of our lives.

Heart Check

Our kids know what's coming when they hear us blurt out, "Heart check!"

Heart checks include four questions:

  1. Did anything make you sad today?

  2. Did anything make you scared?

  3. Did anything make you angry?

  4. Did anything make you happy?

The questions sound elementary, but I can't tell you how many times Rachel and I have processed our days via a heart check.

Emotions can get the better of us, and sometimes we don't even know why we had a hard day.

Heart checks bring us back to the basics and help us process our days more authentically.

How did you fail today?

We got this idea from a Magic School Bus episode.

Ms. Frizzle happily asks her students, "How's the failing, my little failures?"

The episode's point is that failing isn't the worst thing to happen to you, and lots of good can come from mistakes.

Rachel and I love recounting with our kids at the dinner table how we failed either because of our limitations or our sinful tendencies.

We want to normalize failure for our kids (and ourselves), helping them see that it's okay to face their mistakes.

Your inner world and the need for community

I hope you embrace these two truths today.

  1. You are healthier when you process your inner world. God gave you emotions to help you navigate life. And no one else will process your inner world for you.

  2. You need others to process your inner world. Discussing these questions in loving relationships with others is the way to go. As we experience their compassion, we learn how to extend kindness to ourselves.

Which of these questions will you try out today?


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