“The first step parents can take towards raising emotionally intelligent children
is to understand their own style of dealing with emotions
and how that affects their child.”
– John Gottman
I love me some John Gottman. He goes on to say, “Family life is our first school.” This could not be more true. And that’s why it is essential that we look at the kind of “teachers” we are.
Parents must know their parenting style. And they should know it, without judgement, but with sheer curiosity into what they come to the table with.
Almost every day, I will talk to a parent who has come me perplexed at why their child is responding a certain way.
That’s when I ask the parent…
How do you respond? And then the conversation takes a shift.
That may sound remedial but stick with me a second. Do you really have love and empathy for yourself? The path with any mastery often starts with yourself and I assure you parenting is no different. If you want your child to be emotionally intelligent and raise resilience, then “knowing thyself” is step one.
John Gottman breaks parenting down into different styles…
Think about how your parents responded to you and you will know immediately what some parenting styles look like.
Here’s a scenario: Your kid comes home from school upset because no one wants to play with him.
He says, “I have no friends.”
The following responses are possible…
Dismissing – “You’re being dramatic, of course you do.”
Disapproving – “ I have never liked that group of kids, they have been mean since kindergarten. Play with Andrew, he is a nicer kid …”
Laissez-Faire – “Who needs friends, they come and go, just be you and know we love you.”
Emotional Coaching – “That sounds like a frustrating day. What did you do?”
I bet you can guess which one is most effective in raising an emotionally intelligent kiddo, right? It’s not about fixing the problem away and keeping their feelings neat and tidy. Notice how the first 3 don’t help facilitate a conversation. They were more the parent’s personality reacting to their child.
Here’s the truth: emotionally coached kids bounce back better than those who are not. And remember emotional coaching doesn’t aim to solve the problem, but more acknowledging the child and raising their awareness. Empathy is the foundation for emotional coaching.
Want to discover what kind of parent you are? It’s a quick, easy, and insightful quiz.
Feel free to share your observations with me in the comments. If you want to dig even deeper, email me here. I love this stuff and deeply believe all parents can raise emotionally intelligent kids.