Kids who are able to express their emotions build stronger friendships and solve problems more easily. They are better prepared for learning and collaborating environments like school and work. Adults play a role in teaching kids how to manage their emotions. Because like any other skill, coaching and practice help us improve. This is why there is a growing push for parents to be ‘emotion coaches’.
The likelihood of anyone expressing an emotion is based on many factors. These include an individual’s cultural background, family values, personality, and life experiences. But regardless of if and how an emotion is expressed, we all have feelings. And these feelings impact our bodies physically. They also impact our lives by shaping our behaviour and influencing our decisions.
Learning emotional expression
A child’s perspective on emotions starts before they can talk. Babies observe cause and effect. They learn to recognize patterned responses. They build brain structures to recognize those repeated experiences. For example, a child who is repeatedly exposed to angry faces learns to recognize them more quickly. A child that sees sadness being shared openly and the expression of empathy learns to do the same.
Children also learn what emotions are ok to express. They do this based on what they see expressed by people around them. And an individual’s reaction to a child will also teach the child if it’s ok to express that particular emotion (or not).
You may already know that naming a child’s emotion calms them down. But did you know that it also helps children develop empathy? Emotion coaching also impacts children’s behaviour. Think of how differently you react, depending on if you feel understood or not. Kids have an added disadvantage. They may not have the experience or skills to express their feelings. This is where you, the emotion coach, come in. You help your child develop the skills to express and manage all their feelings.
Strong emotion coaches
A strong emotion coach can face any and all emotions. He or she is sensitive to subtle changes in their child’s emotions. He or she has the patience and strength to connect with the child regardless of the child’s emotion. The coach has the ability to separate the child’s feelings from their behaviour. The coach respects his or her child’s feelings and the child’s right to those feelings. He or she listens, empathizes, labels, and teaches acceptable expression of emotions.
This week we delve into emotion coaching.
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