Parenting is a tough and frustrating job. More than anything we want to help our kids grow into healthy, happy adults. Yet when they don’t behave the way we want them to, it’s all too easy to resort to tactics we’re not proud of. Yelling. Threatening. Even spanking. We use these discredited discipline techniques even though we can clearly see that they are not effective. And not only do they make our kids feel bad, they make us feel even worse. And yet, because we don’t know any good alternatives, we stay stuck in the cycle of negativity…and nothing ever changes.
Good news, there is a parenting technique that lays out a loving, nurturing path for raising happy, well-adjusted, well-behaved children. It’s called emotion coaching and it feels good to parents and kids alike. And best of all, it works.
At its heart, emotion coaching is about teaching your child how to recognize and express the way he is feeling in an appropriate way. Once you are able to help your child to understand and communicate his feelings according to his developmental abilities, you’ll see a change in the way you interact with one another. Not only will you begin to see results, you’ll feel great about the relationship you are nurturing with your child.
Emotion coaching is a gentle, open-hearted alternative to old-fashioned, often aggressive discipline that can be used with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and young school-age children. Ultimately, it gives parents the know-how and the confidence to build strong, productive relationships with their children.
So if emotion coaching is the answer we’ve all been waiting for, why aren’t more parents doing it? There are four common roadblocks that trip up even the most well-meaning parents. Read on to see if these obstacles are holding you down and to see how emotion coaching can help you to parent more successfully:
ROADBLOCK #1: You Default to One of Two Extremes: Control-Based or Hands-Off Parenting.
Picture this: It’s late afternoon and you’ve (finally!) found five minutes to make the phone call that’s been on your list all day. Meanwhile, your children, who are admittedly going a little stir crazy, are running up and down the hallway, feet pounding on the wood floor and yelling after one another as they play a raucous and rowdy game of “tag.” As the noise level rises, your patience wanes, and you feel your frustration begin to boil over to near-combustion levels.
So now what do you do? If you’re like many parents, it depends on which of the two “traditional” choices you gravitate toward. Maybe you blow a gasket, screaming at your kids to pipe down and go to their rooms—or else. Or maybe you simply raise your white flag—find a way to excuse yourself off the call, sighing heavily and throwing your hands up in surrender—because kids will be kids no matter what you do.
Emotion Coaching Solution: Find the middle road.
Thankfully, there is a middle road here—and emotion coaching provides a solution that works for both the parents and the kids. In this particular case, there’s no need for punishment, but the kids should not be allowed to disrupt their mother’s phone call either.
Instead of yelling or ignoring, the emotion coach mom takes a deep breath and says, “Guys, you are being really loud. I can see that you have tons of energy—so can you take it outside, please? I’ll come out and play with you as soon as I’m off the phone. Right now, I need your help, so please head out back.”
ROADBLOCK #2: You Discount, Minimize, or Deny Your Child’s Feelings.
Discounting, minimizing, or denying a child’s statements or feelings are knee-jerk reactions for most parents. Everyone does it—and usually without realizing they are doing it in the first place. The reason is that we have a tendency to put our own feelings and issues before our children’s.
For example, if your child complains of being hungry thirty minutes after you ate lunch together, you think about the fact that you just ate, and you aren’t hungry, so there is no way that she can be hungry either. Rather than stopping to consider how she truly feels, you discount her feelings and brush off her request with a dismissive, “Oh, you couldn’t possibly be hungry!”
Or, for example, let’s say Tommy falls down on the playground, and you pick him up, brush him off, and tell him he’s all right. You may think that you are doing the right thing by parenting him to not be overly sensitive and to “get back on the horse.” In actuality, you are (unintentionally) neglecting to think about what emotions that incident may stir up for him: pain, fear, or embarrassment, for example. Read More