When your child is experiencing strong emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety and depression, it's time to do some emotion coaching. There are five basic steps.
1. Be aware of emotions
The first step is to be aware of what your child is feeling. Most parents tend to ignore emotions, hoping that it will go away. It doesn't. It gets bottled up for another time. So it's best to be aware of whatever emotions your child is feeling and to coach your child through it.
2. Connect with your child
Before you can start to coach, teach, correct or 'discipline' your child, you need to connect first.
If you connect with your child then they'll be more receptive to what you say. This is because you've established trust. When you're present with your child and being quietly supportive, your child will trust that you're on their side. You'll then have their cooperation.
3. Listen to your child
Let your child talk first while you listen to what is being said and you listen for what your child is feeling. This is important. Listen for the emotion. You don't need to say anything while your child is talking. Don't offer advice. Just listen for the emotion. Is your child feeling sad, frustrated, anxious, lonely, depressed...? What is the best word to describe it? You'll need to reflect this back to your child in the next step.
4. Name the emotion
Like they say, "You got to name it to tame it". If you can name the exact emotion your child is feeling and you say to them, "You're feeling so ---- (fill in the exact emotion)" then your child will feel that you've understood them. This opens another door and they'll be more likely to listen to what you say next. Naming the emotion will also help your child to express themselves the next time. Since they have a name for the emotion then they'll more likely to use that label instead of resorting to outbursts of anger or frustration.
5. Find good solutions
Instead of offering advice to your child on what to do, you then help your child to find solutions to his problem or how he's feeling. This is where your child can brainstorm and come up with different ideas on what to do the next time they feel this way. If your child is stuck on ideas then you can suggest a few. When your child has come up with several ask them to choose one that they can use. Have your child implement it and follow up the next time to see if it has worked. If not then pick another solution and so on. In this way, you're coaching your child to find solutions to deal with their emotions instead of just getting upset.
The next time your child is having strong feelings, try these five steps instead of getting upset and tense with your child. Try them and let me know how it goes.
For more on your child's emotional development and a walk through example of emotion coaching, get my co-authored book (my affiliate link):
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