Parents as Emotional Coaches

Are you a parent who takes notice of your child’s emotional state of mind – and do you have a developed vocabulary about emotion?  Do you ask your child questions about his/her emotions, and then aid the child in being more introspective about it?

When a child is undergoing emotional stress, you can help your child get to the root of the problem by asking, “what is it that makes you feel fearful and sad?”  The emotional coaching parent usually does this with their spouse or partner, and thus is able to model it for the child.

As an example, the emotional coaching parent may look at their child’s emotions as a global positioning station or GPS.  “If you’re angry,” they intuit, “it’s most likely because you have a goal you’re not attaining.”  Parents with this type of skill look at their emotions, and their child’s, as a way to connect.  They will explain to their child (depending upon age and understanding), what’s on their mind and how they aim to deal with their particular situation.  Modeling is a skill that needs to be implemented both in academic environments and at home, because it is so effective in teaching children appropriate ways to handle upset, anger, and fear.

The emotional coaching parent communicates understanding and empathy, and helps the child use the appropriate words to express his/her feelings.  When this approach is used, the child’s internal locus of control, or GPS system, is reinstated.  This type of parent gives the child enough information to understand why they are feeling and acting in certain ways, and then lets the child decide how to deal with the situation – but always with support and praise for appropriate behavior.


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