Middle born children do best

9827914according to the latest research.

As a first-born this comes as a shock!

All the research I have seen so far suggests that it is the first-born who tend to be outstanding in their field, natural leaders, and more intelligent to boot!

The youngest children have a reputation as being more creative but there wasn’t a lot of research about the middle child.

A few years ago economists in Norway found that middle born children were less likely to go to prison than their siblings but that was it.

In a book; “The secret power of middle children” psychologist Catherine Salmon and writer Katrin Schumann suggest that we have had it all wrong and that it’s the middle born ones who have all the advantages.

Rather than look at research regarding birth order they looked at middle-borns in their own right. They suggest that middle children are excellent negotiators and justice-seekers and are more successful at effecting change. They also claim they have stronger friendships and longer marriages as well as more fulfilling careers.

Squeezed by their siblings middle children learn to be independent and adaptable early on and to think outside the box. They also seek to achieve compromise and value fairness.

The authors claim that first-borns work on strategies to establish authority whilst last-borns go for the sympathy vote.

Middle children however have more capacity for empathy and are good listeners.

A French study of undergraduates showed that middles were more trusting and co-operative. Other studies show that they may be more generous and concerned with social harmony, care more about injustice and distrust power and authority. They are also likely to make better parents – although they can have disparate styles and be either more permissive or more authoritarian.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, John F Kennedy, the Dalai Lama,  Charles Darwin, David Cameron, Tony Blair, both the Beckhams, and Nigella Lawson, were all middle children.

For me the problem with studies like this is that there are lots of middles (and first-borns for that matter) who aren’t outstanding and identifying people in the public eye as examples isn’t necessarily comparing like with like.

And now the film of the book 

Original version published 2011

What sex is your brain?

What sex is your brain? Ever wondered what sex your brain is?

Try these  6 short tests and get a report comparing you to others.

The tests include a test of empathy ie assessing NVC through facial expressions.

If you are wondering what might influence your brain sex watch these linked YouTube videos on the influence of testosterone on your developing brain and the effect it can have on your work performance. http … Read More

via EI 4u

What doesn’t kill you makes you

The news that Ed Balls is using his wife’s name for his kids so that they don’t get bullied is perhaps understandable.

Of course he had a reputation as a bit of a bully himself as one of Gordon Brown’s enforcers and he may have been bullied himself as a child (bullies often were).

He says he only used his “challenging behaviour” with people he knew could stick up for themselves – like Gordon Brown (who has a bit of a reputation in that direction himself) and Tony Blair – and denies he treats people as badly as he was treated.

But is he really doing them any favours? Could a little adversity help you to become better adjusted as an adult?

Studies at the University of California have shown that when children respond to hostility or bullying, whether face-to-face or on-line, in kind they are liked more and earn more respect from their classmates and teachers according to a report in The Times.

Whilst not pleasant experiences the children remembered them more vividly than friendly events. Trying to placate your enemy doesn’t seem to pay whereas giving as good as you got earned higher ratings for maturity and social competence.

No-one is saying it is a good thing to have a lot of people hostile to you, and children no-one disliked were the best adjusted, but the research suggests that rather than ignoring bullies or people who dislike you, or trying to placate them, or even being completely unaware of them, it is better to confront them.

Similar results have been found by researchers at Strathclyde University. Children who are good at standing up to bullies, whether for themselves or others, are better at resolving problems without conflict, are more emotionally literate, and better at taking other people’s perspective.

In other words they display the emotional intelligence skills of self-awareness, self-control, empathy, and managing relationships.

Updated from post originally on EI 4u May 2010

Emotional Intelligence and empathy

Emotional Intelligence and empathy In an earlier post about Emotional Intelligence and marshmallows I referred to the findings of a Demos think-tank report which reported on an increase in social mobility between the end of WW2 and the 1970s followed by a period of stagnation up to 2000.

Amongst the three traits that were most important for children to improve their social lot was empathy – the ability to be sensitive to other people, to read their emotions and understand non-verb … Read More

via EI 4u with permission

Only emotionally intelligent teachers need apply!

Would-be teachers need “emotional intelligence” (EI) as well as academic ability according to the education secretary Michael Gove.

Gove also said that  there are academically bright people who “can’t teach for toffee”.

Then there are some who “aren’t the brightest but have the EI and spark to engage a classroom”.

The government previously said that teachers should only be drawn from the top-tier  with no funding for 3rd class graduates. And isn’t it only right that teachers who are responsible for developing EI in schools should be emotionally literate themselves?

The government is planning a shakeup of teacher training with more emphasis on learning in the classroom (the end of “death by Powerpoint” training). The teachers and lecturers’ union ATL is against it as they don’t believe teaching is a craft but a profession which requires a strong theoretical base before classroom teaching starts.

Gove also intends to reform Ofsted (the source of the idea that all schools should have a rubbish teacher. See: “Every school should have one”). Ofsted will no longer assess schools on equality, community cohesion, and children’s spiritual development. The inspections will be limited to 4 key areas: teaching standards, leadership, pupil behaviour, and achievement.

The changes will be brought in next year and mean  that Ofsted will no longer spend time on the peripheral, some might argue politically correct,  issues introduced by the Labour government and schools will no longer be rated on them.

As Gove says; “we need to refocus inspection on the principal purpose of schools improving teaching“.

Original post on EI 4u November 2010

Emotional Intelligence in schools – only half a story

Last April I wrote about the SEAL programme. There was a national strategy and the government was planning to spend £millions to embed the social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) in the curriculum and culture of primary and secondary schools.

Will Culver at the University of Greenwich, in a letter to The Psychologist last April, queried whether they had the emphasis on the right things.

He argued that by definition Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the management of your own emotions and other people’s emotions by understanding all the components of emotions and their consequences.

Yet the majority of the SEAL material focuses on behaviours associated with EI rather than cognitive aspects, even though the effectiveness of Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is well understood (and supported by the NHS as the treatment of choice amongst talking therapies for anxiety and depression).

He also said that although the (then) Department for Children, Schools and Families’ guidance booklet states how important it is for children to believe that they can learn, there seem to be few resources devoted to the importance of thoughts and beliefs in shaping behaviour and emotional intelligence.

If Culver was right it seemed a shame to spend so much money to address only the behavioural aspects of EI and overlook the more reflective development of self-awareness and empathy which is critical to the development of emotional intelligence.

SEAL is still around and there are many school web-sites singing its praises. However the national evaluation, found on the (re-named)  Department for Education’s web-site, suggests that the outcomes have not been as good as expected (See summary: Research Brief DFE-RB049 published October 2010).

The programmes “had failed to have a positive impact” and “had not produced the expected changes“. In fact just the opposite it seems as it had reduced the trust and respect  for teachers, reduced the liking for school, and failed to provide support. On the other hand it had given pupils more autonomy and influence. So not all bad?

The report acknowledged that earlier SEL programmes typically had more monitoring and sufficient financial and human resources as well as a more structured and consistent approach-  which they recommended for SEAL programmes. They also suggested that it was down to the “will and skill of staff”.

There are some programmes around however which seem to be based on RET or CBT. For example in an article headlined “Pupils bounce back with happiness lessons” The Times reported on a US based programme called Resilience which “is giving children the emotional intelligence to handle their lives”.

Originally designed to help combat depression it is now used to develop confidence and well-being and is also being offered to parents. It teaches children how to deal with complex emotions and difficult situations.

And the programme came to the UK last year when a team from the University of Pennsylvania ran a 6 day course in “Resilience Skills for teenagers”  at Wellington College near Crowthorne, England,  aimed at teachers, mentors, school managers and governors.

Based on an  original post in EI 4U and updated