Empathy: The Foundation of Emotion Coaching

This post was written by Stephanie Petters, coordinator of the API Reads program.

The discussion of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child  by John Gottman, PhD is continuing to unfold as we near the end of the book.  An excerpt from the book:

“When children feel emotionally connected to their parents and the parents use this bond to help kids regulate their feelings and solve problems, good things happen … our studies show that children who are Emotion-Coached do better in terms of academic achievement, health, and peer relationships. They have fewer behavior problems, and are better able to bounce back from distressing experiences. With emotional intelligence, they are well prepared to handle the risks and challenges that lie ahead.”

Raising and Emotionally Intelligent Child book coverAPI Reads is Attachment Parenting International’s online book club on Goodreads, but it’s more than a club for people who love to read books—it’s a place to share concerns and ideas to strengthen the connection to our children and families as well as share our own personal experiences.

For example, in Chapter 4 of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, the author explores the topic of avoiding criticizing, humiliating or mocking your child:

“Minute by minute, well-intentioned parents chip away at their kids’ self-confidence by constantly correcting their manners, deriding their mistakes, and unnecessarily intruding as kids try to perform the simplest tasks. They absent-mindedly describe their children with labels that stick like glue to the child’s self-concept. (Bobby is “hyperactive.” Karie is “the quiet one.” Bill is “lazy.” Angie is “our little Puddin’ Head.”) It’s also common to hear parents make jokes for other adults at a child’s expense, or to see parents mock their children’s sadness, using worlds like, ‘Don’t be such a baby.’ “

Here are reader responses to the above:

    • I loved this chapter and underlined so much of it!
    • As a former piano teacher, I have observed a lot of “constantly correcting their manners, deriding their mistakes, and unnecessarily intruding as kids try to perform the simplest tasks.” I make every attempt not to label a child–my own or a student.
    • A HUGE pet peeve of mine is lazy compliments! “Good!” Oh please! I am so glad the author address this on page 112. It’s about specific, not global, praise for an action.
    • I miss Mr. Rogers (page 113), and I do think the busy style of many children’s shows is just silly and talks down to the children.
    • I do find myself wanting to give sermons to correct any kind of vices that could be long-lasting, such as speaking disrespectfully or lying.
    • I appreciate giving my son as many opportunities as possible to make choices and decisions. I think this is such a great building step for self-regulation and the ability to take care of himself as he grows older. I give him lots of say over food, clothing and sometimes time. We do limit computers and video games to the weekends. I agree it can make such obedient and cooperative children whose sense of purpose gets stunted when they bump into pleasing others as an adult. I’m working through this now as an adult!
    • I’m a big hugger and back rubber. It’s amazing to see my son’s tension melt when he is touched with tenderness. (page 124)
    • “It is the parent who determines what behavior is permissible.” (page 126) This is where I struggle. I struggle to know what I should be expecting of my son and what I should allow as part of his growing and development.

What else have we been discussing? We’ve been discussing empowering your child with choices, the scaffolding technique for praise, not imposing solutions and more!

Everyone is welcome to join the discussion—or simply to follow the conversation—at API Reads on GoodReads. We’ll be discussing Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child for the remainder of December. Our next book for discussion starting on January 1 is The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland. Support API by using this link to purchase The Science of Parenting for January.


Author: Lisa Lord

Lisa Lord is editor of TheAttachedFamily.com.

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