Emotion Coaching Parenting

Think back to the last time your child threw a temper tantrum or had a complete emotional meltdown. What were you thinking about? What was your child thinking about? How were both of you feeling? Maybe you were feeling frustrated, confused, angry, or even sad? Your child probably could not eloquently explain to you exactly what he or she was feeling at that time because, for kids, it is difficult to place an emotion word on an uncomfortable negative emotion.

While this can be extremely frustrating, therapists John Gottman, PhD and Julie Gottman, PhD, have presented a helpful way to try and bridge that gap between what your child is feeling and how they express that emotion. In their book, Emotion Coaching: The Heart of Parenting, they describe five steps that can help parents meet their child where they are emotionally and hopefully diffuse a potential meltdown.

Step One involves the parents being aware of their child’s emotions. Instead of jumping into problem-solving mode (this is a difficult urge to resist), focus first on what your child is feeling. Step Two is to recognize this emotion as an opportunity for connection or teaching. Be available to listen to what your child is saying. In Step Three, the parents work to help their child verbally label emotions. Step Four is crucial as this is when the parents communicate empathy and understanding. It is so important for children to know that they are heard and understood. Put yourself in your child’s shoes and sit with them in that emotion before step five. Step Five is when the parents set limits and problem-solve by focusing on the child’s action and behavior, not the child him/herself.

This is just a brief overview of the Emotion Coaching technique. There are many other facets to this approach. If you would like to learn more about how to use Emotion Coaching with your child, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors.


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