You’ve witnessed the scenario, the semester starts off smoothly and the student is doing pretty well. The assignments are not too difficult and the academic year is flowing with relative ease. As the semester continues, usually shortly before mid-terms, turbulence takes over. The student suddenly becomes overwhelmed and overloaded, assignment due dates are rapidly approaching and time is running out. The student is not properly prepared and encounters difficulty finding the help needed to succeed. This may describe your ADHD student, but it can also define someone low in emotional intelligence. Those with ADHD may likely be low in emotional intelligence skills as well.
ADHD AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
When dealing with ADHD, we tend to focus on proficiencies related to time management, procrastination, organization, and memory. These skills are important, but we do not spend as much time discussing critical areas that relate to persistence, self-advocacy, flexibility, emotional control and stress management. These areas of personal development, called emotional intelligence, can be learned to help avoid academic disruption. Self-advocacy can help a student to politely and confidently say no to excessive campus activities; emotional control can help one properly confront a problem roommate; persistence can help a student to bounce back from a bad grade on a test to try again with new determination.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
Daniel Goldman, the father of emotional intelligence, states that life success involves only 20% intellect and 80% the ability to connect and build strong relationships with others. Those that are skilled at building strong relationships possess emotional control, self-advocacy, stress management, persistence and other such skills. Emotional intelligence is defined as using emotions well to guide thinking and behavior. Studies show students with high emotional intelligence do better academically. High emotional intelligence also improves a person’s social interactions and helps one develop friendships and lasting relationships.
Low emotional intelligence stifles healthy social interactions. Low self-awareness and low self-confidence disrupts positive relationship building. The student may lack a healthy network of friendships and relationships with others, which can be crucial in social problem solving and motivation while in college. A student with low emotional intelligence is not comfortable approaching a teacher for clarity on an assignment or feel weird going to the disabilities office and asking for the necessary accommodations needed for academic success. This is because they have not built the relationships and comfort with those persons that would make interacting with them relatively easy. In some instances, the student is not even aware that an intervention is needed. Too often, instructors assume that the student is unwilling to try or not interested in learning.
DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Believe it or not, for some people, emotional intelligence comes naturally. This means that it is easier for them to create the bonds and obtain the information they need to achieve their goals. These are the people that can connect with everyone in the room. They may have been the class clown or the teacher’s pet in school. They were probably a part of the popular crowd. The good news is, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be practiced and developed. Research suggests that by making a person aware of the skills that they are lacking and practicing the proper responses, one can develop the skills needed to improve their emotional intelligence. For a student, this can mean better friendships, better relationships with professors or improved interactions. For students with ADHD, developing emotional intelligence can ease the mid-semester rush and equip students with the tools needed to finish the semester as smoothly as they began.
Steven McDaniels is an Edge Foundation coach. He serves as the Director of Fitness and Athletics at Beacon College, where he previously served as the Director of Life Coaching.