Acknowledge and Respond To Your Child’s Feelings and Emotions Instead of Dismissing Them: The Power of Emotional Coaching

(This is the second post in a series on Becoming a Better Parent)


As parents, we are always trying to come up with solutions for our child’s problems. When a child comes over to you because he/she has a problem, the first thing many of us often do is try to solve that problem. However, many times your child doesn’t want you to solve her sadness; she wants and needs you to acknowledge it. Children need their parents to help them with their emotional development. This process is known as Emotional Coaching.

Emotional Coaching may sound cheesy. I know when my wife came home from her first set of parenting classes years ago and told me about this I simply laughed. I thought it was the stupidest thing until I tested it.

The thing with emotional coaching is that often when your child is sad or mad about something he or she may be coming over to you for emotional support even though they may not know it. Part of the role of parenting is helping our children understand their emotions and for us to react appropriately to those emotions and feelings.

Take for example when your son is sad about not being able to find his teddy bear that he loves so much. He comes over to you crying, “I can’t find teddy” and because you’re in a rush and don’t have time to deal with the situation properly you respond, “So just take another doll.”

How about when you take your toddler or preschooler to the doctor, she’s starts crying out of fear, and you respond, “You’re a big girl. Its ok. Don’t be scared. Don’t cry.” Then when she gets her shot you automatically respond to her screaming and crying “Oh it didn’t hurt that much. Did it?”

Acknowledging and addressing their feelings will often help your child feel better. Sometimes it may be hard to tell especially when they’ve experienced something as frightening as getting a needle jabbed in their harm. But you wont know until you tested it.

In one of my upcoming posts, I will write about how I used successfully used emotional coaching to deal with a child in my daughter’s class in two different scenarios.

For more detailed information on Emotional Coaching check out Talaris.org. This site provides the 5 steps to Emotional Coaching and a great video to give you an overall idea of what it means to be in tune with your child’s emotions.

In addition, the following books are great resources as well:
Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child
Raising Your Kids without Raising You Voice
How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

These books provide various scenarios on how to acknowledge and respond appropriately to your child’s feelings and emotions.

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4 Responses

  1. Rory says:

    Lovely reminder, Eric. I’m looking forward with eager anticipation to your follow up post!

    These things always sound cheesy when tagged with their official designation. I’m not a great fan of using official terms for this very reason. To me it just seems a natural way of communicating with your child.

    It’s like, you see a person with their baby in a sling and they’re a proponent of “attachment parenting”. Flippin’ heck! Shouldn’t all parenting be attachment parenting? It does wind me up, rather.

  2. Eric says:

    Hey Rory, I agree with you. I got so accustomed to using emotional coaching that I almost forgot their was a name for it. In fact when I wrote this post I had a hard time coming up with my old parenting response to a sad child. I actually had to think about the automatic “That didnt hurt. You’re a big boy” response.

    But since Emotional Coaching is sort of a process I guess its ok to label it with an official term.

    Shouldn’t all parenting be attachment parenting?

    Compared to me you are a parent who practices attachment parenting. All your kids share your bed with you. I would go crazy.

  1. August 10, 2007

    […] Hold Off With Advice Sometimes it’s too easy to come up with answers to problems, but sometimes children just want to talk through difficulties – it gives them an opportunity to process matters, and it could lead to them arriving at a solution themselves. Parents can be a sounding board. Eric at Husbandhood has a few more words to say about this: Acknowledge and Respond To Your Child’s Feelings and Emotions Instead of Dismissing Them: The Powe… […]

  2. August 14, 2007

    […] Acknowledge and Respond To Your Child’s Feelings and Emotions Instead of Dismissing Them: The Powe… […]

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