6 Ways to emotion coach your child
Created by Swapna Nair Updated on Sep 15, 2017
'The real cradle that the baby is nursed is the emotional climate between parents, how the parents are getting along, for this affects the parenting.' Dr. Gottman
Language development research says that- when the parent is polite, respectful, offers choices, takes part in imaginative play, compassionate and understanding- then that child's vocabulary skyrockets up.
And that's how when parents help their child in recognising his or her emotions, and help their child in channelising them in a positive way – we say that parents have emotion coached their child. But what exactly is emotion coaching, how can you as parents emotion coach your child and why is it important to emotion coach your child are some of the questions, I have tried to answer through this blog.
What Is Emotion Coaching?
Emotion coaching is essentially a new approach in parenting that helps parents to understand their child's feelings and emotions and channelize the same into positive situations. In emotion coaching parents teach their child how emotions operate at a basic level and how the child can react to those emotions and feelings in a healthy way. The first and foremost step of emotion coaching involves identifying the child's emotions and feelings and let them know that no emotion is right or wrong.
How Emotions Define Us?
We are emotional beings. From the moment of entry into the world the infant is tuned to expressing its emotions. It cries to express it hunger, pain, discomfort and to seek attention. It smiles and gets rewarded by lots of love and cuddling from parents.
Often parents forget that we are only caregivers. We decide to have a child and we bring it into the world. We care for it and nurture it forgetting that our child only comes through us and not from us. Our child is a separate individual. From day 1 to 6 months as it lies helplessly we feel empowered and this often blinds us thinking that we own the child, its mind, body and soul.
I recently read that love is paying attention. And how true it is, is it not? So how do we begin emotion coaching? Well, there are basic 6 ways to emotion coach your child.
6 Ways To Emotion Coach Your Child
Like I said that there are 6 basic ways to emotion coach your child and I have listed them all below. Let's see what are those 6 ways by which you can emotion coach your child and make him or her more acceptable to his or her emotions.
Why Is It Important To Emotion Coach Your Child?
Such unconditional love will teach your child to self-regulate/manage emotions. An emotionally intelligent child grows to be-
- Noticing your child's emotions: We can notice only if we are truly engaged with our child. This engagement will happen if we practise patience. A baby is the perfect example of living in the 'here and now'. A keen observation will help you understand your child. You are then practising attachment parenting. Holding the infant as soon as it cries will reassure it. It is the first step to a good EQ (emotional quotient)
Understanding your child's emotions: Try to see the world from your child's perspective, to really feel what he or she is feeling. Practice listening. We do not need to fix their issues immediately. We first need to do the following--
- Accept their feelings: First accept their feelings. How to accept? By just being there with them patiently. Children do as we do. If we remain calm they learn the right response. So how to remain calm?
- Observe, reflect and then react: Deep breathe. Move away for a few minutes (go to the kitchen and drink some water for your mind to be diverted) Come back and observe your child. A toddler of 2-3 years may not want you to hug immediately. A younger one may just want your hug. Your observation will help you understand your child better.
- Go to the root of the behaviour: Anger or being upset is often a defence mechanism against deeper emotions like fear, anxiety etc. When the child is upset about going to school, he cries. He cries because he is anxious and wants to spend time with you. He is not able to express so he cries. All children want to be safe and loved. They do not understand why they have to go to school, a new environment!
- Help them label their feelings: Once your child calms down help him/her label the feelings. Substitute the basic emotions with varying words. Use a thesaurus! None of us are encyclopaedias! Anger can be substituted with irritated, displeased etc. 'I notice that you are irritated..'
Help your child understand that emotions are acceptable: You can talk to your child and help him or her understand that it is perfectly fine to feel and experience emotions and there is nothing wrong with any emotion as long as you are not hurting the other person. Here's an incident for an instance.
“You got irritated with XYZ for ABC reasons. It is ok to be irritated. I understand. But hitting is not ok dear. You are hurting the other person. Then that person also will be upset. Would you want your friend to be hurt? So what can you do next time? Come to mamma ok!!”
Talks on above-mentioned lines will help your child understand that the emotions and feelings are perfectly acceptable. However, he or she also needs to know that not all behaviours/actions are acceptable.
Never stop your child from crying. Do not distract them from their feelings. Because the child will think that crying is wrong or shameful. He should understand that crying, getting angry, sad is as acceptable as laughing and smiling. The response to the feeling is what he should be taught to. regulate.
Setting limits: You're not telling him how to feel, but setting limits on how he expresses those feelings. Encourage younger children to role-play the right and wrong scenarios, and older children to brainstorm ideas (without evaluating) while you write them down. Encourage your child to answer these questions-
- Is this solution fair?
- Will it work?
- Is it safe?
- How will it make me feel?
- How will it make others feel?
Your child knows too: Let us not disrespect what our child knows. Suppose your child does not want to kiss your aunt or does not want to be hugged by an uncle, accept. Suppose your child does not want to play with a certain group, accept. Listen to your child. There would always be a reason. This way you earn their deep trust
- More resilient: An emotionally intelligent not only knows how to manage his or her emotions but can also help other children to help in understanding their emotions
- More emotionally stable: Emotionally intelligent child is emotionally stable as he or she knows how to manage the emotions positively. He or she knows how and when to give vent to their emotions leading to few behavioural problems
- Fewer behavioural problems: When a child who has grown up with unconditional love and great acceptance, he or she learns to regulate his or her emotions well, thus resulting in a positive vent to the emotions leading to fewer behavioural related issues like no temper tantrums, no crying bouts
- Less infectious illness: An emotionally intelligent child is less prone to stress, depression and other lifestyle disturbances and tends to bounce back thus making them less prone to infections or infectious diseases