Parenting Tools | Compassion

Seeds of Compassion workshop: emotion coaching

Dr. Sophie Havighurst came all the way from the University of Melbourne, where she lectures on child development, to talk all about emotion coaching and about our own Dr. John Gottman of The Gottman Institute. Gottman is an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Washington and world-renowned for his parenting theories.

Turns out it’s a small emotion coaching world after all.

Havighurst spoke this evening about how important it is for parents to understand their own emotions so they can more easily help their kids learn to deal with their feelings. Each child shows emotion differently, she explains. A child's reactions and personality is determined both by the temperament he or she is born with and by the ways he or she is parented.

Emotional intelligence, she explained, is the ability to:

  • Identify and understand your own emotions
  • Use emotions during social interactions
  • Use emotional awareness to help solve problems
  • Deal with frustration
  • Keep distress from overwhelming your ability to think
  • Be in control of how and when you express feelings.

“When you or your children are emotional, it is tough to think and to take things in - and it’s hard to learn,” says Havighurst. “Kids, in their early years, need to learn skills to help them handle their emotions.”

When children connect with their own emotions, they have a keener sense of control over their behavior, she says. Here are Havighurst’s tips, adapted from Gottman’s book, The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child:

To emotion coach your child you:

  • Become aware of their emotions
  • View their emotions as an opportunity for teaching
  • Communicate your understanding and acceptance of the emotion
  • Help them use words to describe what they feel
  • Help them to solve problems, if necessary.

Havighurst’s talk reinforced how crucial it is for parents to be in touch with their children’s feelings, to validate those feelings and to never dismiss them.

It also reinforced how Seattle experts continue to make waves in the field of child development that reverberate around the world.

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