emotion coaching

‘The Heart of Parenting. How to Raise and Emotionally Intelligent Child’ by John Gottman (1997). This book contains some gems…

“Children whose parents consistently practice Emotion Coaching have better physical health, and score higher academically than children whose parents don’t offer such guidance. These kids get along better with friends, have fewer behaviour problems, and are less prone to acts of violence. Over all, children who are Emotion-Coached experience fewer negative feelings and more positive feelings; they’re more healthy emotionally.

But here’s the result I find most surprising: When mothers and fathers use a coaching style of parenting, their children become more resilient. The kids who are Emotion-Coached still get sad, angry or scared under difficult circumstances, but they are better able to soothe themselves, bounce back from distress, and carry on with productive activities. In other words, they are more emotionally intelligent.” (p25)

Haim Ginott “believed that one of our most important responsibilities as parents is to listen to our children, hearing not only their words, but the feelings behind their words. He also taught that communication about emotions can serve as a way for parents to teach their children values.

But for this to happen, parents must show genuine respect for their children’s feelings, Ginott taught. They must attempt to empathize with their kids – that is, feel what their children are feeling. Communication between parent and child must always preserve both parties’ self-respect. Statements of understanding should precede statments of advice. Ginott discouraged parents from telling children what they ought to feel, because that makes children distrust their feelings.

Ginott believed that, while not all behaviour is acceptable, all feelings and wishes are acceptable. Therefore, parents should set limits on acts, but not emotions and desires.

Unlike many parent educators, Ginott did not disapprove of getting angry with children. Indeed he believed that parents should honestly express their anger, provided that it is directed at a specific problem and does not attack the child’s personality or character.” (pp34-35)

The course which I have written and am now teaching (http://ed21c.pbworks.com) teaches Emotion Coaching, using NVC. I believe that, without Mindfulness, it is very hard to connect with one’s self and one’s children in the way described here in John Gottman’s book.  NVC and Mindfulness are a beautiful combination, and give parents the skills and awareness to dig deep within themselves and then to be able to meet their children, connect with their children, and to coach them.

Don’t you love the idea of having children who “experience fewer negative feelings and more positive feelings; they’re more healthy emotionally.”

3 comments

  • Kara, I have been following you on Facebook for a little while now but have only just visited this blog, and I am glad I have done so! I am beginning to develop a vocational vision based on this beautiful combination of NVC and Mindfulness. I work in early childhood though am primarily trained in Social Ecology. I am influenced – besides the big names like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Marshall Rosenberg – by practitioners like Robin Grille and Patrice Thomas (both from Sydney near where I live) and Maria Aaarts (Marte Meo). I have been exploring a commitment to my own mindfulness practice at http://seedmind.wordpress.com and I envision this will progress to deeper exploration in the child and family context. Good to connect! Will explore your work further…

    • Thanks for connecting, Simon. Mindfulness and NVC are a beautiful combination – NVC offers many practical strategies for mindful living, and Mindfulness is a necessary springboard for the practice and integration of NVC.
      I love hearing that you are taking these practices into early childhood work! Wishing you well as you touch the lives of little people in a mindful, gentle, respectful way.

  • I also developed last year an interactive website Growing Children Growing Community http://www.wiser.org/group/growingchildren which I have had time away from but will be updating soon

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