Posted May 10, 2007.
Researchers have found that even more than IQ, how people handle emotions will determine the success and happiness they find in life. Parents want to prepare their children for life and what it may present to them. Learning to handle emotions helps in developing and maintaining relationships.
Parenting requires having an awareness of your child’s feelings, and being able to soothe, guide, and empathize with them. Children, who learn how to handle strong emotions from their parents, are better prepared to cope with life’s ups and downs, read other people’s emotional states, delay gratification, control impulses, and motivate themselves.
Parents who get involved with their children’s feelings are called “Emotional Coaches,” according to John Gottman, author of, The Heart of Parenting, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.
There are three types of parents who fail to teach their children emotional intelligence:
1. Disapproving parents are critical of their child when they show negative feelings. The parent may punish the child or reprimand them for displaying negative emotions like fear or anger.
2. Dismissing parents ignore or disregard the child’s negative emotion. These parents may say, “That’s silly, of course you want to kiss Grandma!” when the child protests.
3. Laissez-Faire parents, empathize with their child and accept their child’s emotions, but fail to set limits or offer guidance on their child’s behavior.
Parents who use “emotional coaching” follow a five-step process:
1. Become aware of the child’s emotions. Take time to cue in to his feelings. Do you notice irritation, disappointment, tiredness, fear?
2. Help the child identify and label their feelings. “You seem upset.”
3. Use times of inappropriate displays of emotions as “teachable” moments. “Let’s talk about how you feel. Tell me what’s going on.”
4. Validate the child’s feelings and listen empathetically. “I understand it makes you mad when you don’t get to….”
5. Set limits, while trying to explore problem-solving techniques. “Hitting is not allowed. What else could you do when you are mad at your baby sister?”
Source: John Gottman, and Joan DeClaire, The Heart of Parenting, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. (1997) Simon and Schuster, New York.
Register to rate articles and leave comments.
© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
University of Illinois Extension