How you cope with feelings can affect your child’s ability to communicate.
Read the four styles and decide if you need to change your behavior to give your child the right tools to cope with negative emotions.
• Ignores child’s feelings
• Rejects negative feelings
• Focuses on getting over emotions
• Uncertain of emotions and control
You say “I can’t stand it” “ It’s not good for you”
Your child learns feelings are wrong or are not valid. There is something wrong with the way they feel, they cannot regulate their own emotion.
• Judges and criticizes
• Reprimands or punishes for emotional expression
• Negative emotions seen as bad character traits
• Obedience most important
You say “You are not going to cry now” “You shouldn’t let other people see”
Your child learns Not to trust or like her own feelings and judgments. It’s difficult to regulate emotions. Suppression and denial of feelings, driven by shame or fear.
• Freely accepts
• Always offers comfort but little guidance
• Few limits
• Ride out emotions
You say “Let it all out” “To hell with what other people think”
Your child learns Feelings can’t be controlled. Poor boundaries and poor coping skills resulting in relationship difficulties.
• Values negatives as opportunities for closeness
• Aware of own emotions
• Respects and tolerates emotions
• Is controlled
• Doesn’t fix things
You say “You’re very angry right now” “When you feel this way, take a step away and calm down”
Your child learns To recognize and control feelings. To feel good about him or herself and understand others.
Steps to emotional coaching
1. Be aware, listen, validate: “Want to tell me about it?”
2. Accept hers feelings; recognize them as opportunity for intimacy. Not: “That’s ridiculous, how can you say that?” Rather: “It’s good to talk”
3. Help her to name her feelings. “What are you feeling?”
4. Aid the discussion and help him to see other perspectives. “Why do you think he said that?”
5. Encourage her not to act on initial feelings. Take time to think. Maybe write it down talk it through again. Help her to trust her inner guidance.
6. Set some limits on behaviour. Talk family values.
7. Check out what he's thinking about himself. Be aware of self-blame, guilt and shame.
8. Her thoughts about herself and her situation are equally important. Find the link between thoughts and feelings and explain this.