I have been studying emotion coaching. I’ve also been implementing this
parenting style with my children. John Gottman is an influential psychologist
in America who has spent the past 25-years studying parenting styles and
emotions. What he found was there are four universal parenting styles and most
people use all four at any given time in the day. The four styles include
dismissive, disapproving, laissez-faire, and emotion coaching. Each style has its
own effect on the children.
Dismissive parents tend to disregard emotions, ignore unwanted behaviors,
and often use bribery. I know we have all experienced a toddler meltdown and
dismissed it as nothing more but a tantrum. I also know that most parents say
things such as ” If you stop crying, we will go to the park”. The
problem with this style is that children learn their feelings are wrong,
inappropriate or invalid. As adults, they may end up not being able to regulate
their own emotions.
Disapproving parents tend to be critical when emotions are displayed while
also using punishments and reprimands. Have you ever told your child something
similar to ” Don’t be a baby, it didn’t even hurt” or ” If you
don’t stop crying, I am not taking you”? Children learn based on this
style that their feelings are wrong, inappropriate or invalid. As adults, they
may have difficulty regulating their emotions.
Laissez-Faire parents usually accept all emotions, empathize with their
child, but parenting frequently fails to offer guidance. Have you let your
child choose their bedtime or meals despite a schedule being in place already?
Do you let your child set their limits with screen times?
Emotion Coaching parents have a strong awareness of their own emotions and
the emotions of others around them. Have you ever said to your child “
Tell me what your feeling right now?” or ” I understand you’re
feeling sad, is there anything else your feeling?” Children who are
emotionally coached learn to trust their feelings. They can regulate their
emotions and solve problems. They have high self-esteem, learn well and get
along with others.
The first step in being able to emotion coach your child is having emotional
intelligence your-self. What is emotional intelligence? The ability to read
other people; understand yourself; also control your own emotions. There are
components to emotional intelligence that includes self-awareness,
self-regulation, self-motivation, and social awareness.
What effects our ability to have emotional intelligence? A correlation has
been found among attachment styles and emotional intelligence. The attachment
one has with their caregivers as children effects one’s ability to regulate
emotions and the ability to develop emotional intelligence.
Out of curiosity I took the attachment style quiz and found I have a secure
attachment style with my partner. I know for me this was not always the case as
I was raised from an anxious-attachment style. My mother was inconsistent, I
use to seek the approval of others while being extremely co-dependent. How did
it change for me? I believe dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive
behavioral therapy helped me to develop the ability to regulate my emotions
while instilling in me a greater sense of awareness of my emotions and the
emotions of others. Thus, changing my attachment style and instilling emotional
intelligence in me.
Emotion coaching your child starts with five steps
- Having an emotional awareness
- Utilize the situation to connect with your child
- Listen to what your child is saying
- Reflect back to them what they said and identify the emotion
- Help them to find a solution
Some phrases you might use while emotion coaching are:
” It seems like you’re feeling sad about this, is this the case?”
” You look frustrated, is that how you feel?”
“I can see that you’re angry right now, is there anything else your feeling?”
These are some examples on what to say while emotion coaching. An important component to emotion coaching is not allowing the child’s emotional reaction cause a reaction in you. Allow them to feel what they feel while staying calm. Often times as parents we react to their emotional responses with a emotional response. This adds fuel to the fire. If we remain calm, while having empathy for the child I have found that the child reacts in a positive manner.