This is because the emotional brain, known as the limbic system, has the power to open or close access to learning and memory. When a student feels angry or stressed they are less likely to learn because their mental energy is expended focusing on the cause of their negative emotions. So what can you do as parents? You can attend to not the ‘three Rs’ of education but the ‘three Es’ of emotional intelligence – Eliminate, Educate, and Encourage.
Parents can Eliminate the number of situations generating negative emotions for their son. Some of the more common sources include: fighting with parents and siblings, family breakdown and a parent leaving/absent from the family home. Be proactive about modelling constructive conflict resolution in the house. If there are significant changes happening at home, make an extra effort to go out of your way to try and connect with your son more often with the intent of finding out how they are handling the changes.
Parents can Educate their son to talk about their feelings as this develops an improved emotional awareness. Educate and model basic anger management and conflict resolution skills that prevent your son from becoming victims of their negative feelings.
Parents can educate their sons about their strengths and interests and actively encourage them when they show enthusiasm for a particular subject or pursuit. Educate them to set attainable goals as they often need help in taking big challenges and breaking them up into smaller achievable tasks.
Parents can Encourage their son’s emotional intelligence by acknowledging and affirming achievement as this strengthens their self-esteem. Encourage academic grades by acknowledging their emotional resilience, problem solving, and personal growth in dealing with difficult emotions.
Parents can encourage their son by applauding them when they demonstrate compassion for others through our Service Program. Encourage them by allowing them to participate and contribute to family decisions and discussions.
People like Edmund Rice and Ambrose Treacy knew that learning is not all about a boy’s IQ nor the quality of education provided. They knew also that young men need to be in good emotional space have the ability to manage their feelings. As parents, you can assist in this quest by focusing on the ‘three Es’ as well as the ‘three Rs’.
Best wishes for the holidays,
Conor Finn, Dean of Formation