Children who are more balanced and serene, more self-confident, better at school and even the happiest, are those with the most developed emotional intelligence. That is the intelligence that underlies self-control, attention to others and empathy.
These are the results of a study, which lasted several years, carried out by the American psychologist John Gottman. Another important result of Gottman’s research is that this intelligence is not innate, but it can be learned. And the best teachers are parents, who can become real emotional coaches.
“Our studies show that emotionally trained children achieve better results at school, are healthier and establish more positive reactions with their peers, they also have fewer behavioral problems and are able to recover more quickly after negative experiences. to be better prepared to face the risks and challenges of life “says the psychologist.
Starting from this discovery Gottman, in the book “Emotional Intelligence for a Child” (Bur), has developed a guide to teach parents to become good emotional coaches for their children.
The parent must accept the negative emotions of the children but not the behaviors
The concept of emotional training is based on the ability to identify with our children, to feel empathy towards them. “Unfortunately, emotional training does not come naturally to all parents just because they love their children,” says Gottman.
The parent trainer is that parent who always manages to put himself in the shoes of his son, who in the emotions, even negative, sees an opportunity for growth, and consequently manages to manage the moments of crisis with greater patience, accepting and listening to all feelings of the child also anger, sadness, fear, without minimizing, underestimating or mocking these emotions.
Certainly, however, it is not a permissive parent: it accepts the feelings, but not the behaviors, which if they are wrong, must be corrected . Although Gottman basically claims that emotionally trained children end up behaving better than the children of overly permissive or overly authoritarian parents for three reasons:
1) Children who have the feeling that parents understand them and are really interested in their lives do not need to act and make scenes to get their attention;
2) Children trained emotionally from an early age learn to calm themselves and can relax even under stress;
3) The emotional bond between parents and children becomes tighter and children are more receptive to parents’ requests, they are more willing to please than to disappoint.
In his guide, Gottman explains how to become good emotional coaches in five steps:
1) First of all try to understand if behind the wrong behavior of a child there is a discomfort, like a jealousy between brothers, a difficult schooling …
When a child is angry, tense, frightened, the parent must make an effort to identify with him and understand what may have generated this emotion. A three-year-old can not say “I’m sorry Mom is boring and capricious, but the transfer to the new kindergarten has really stressed me” … It’s therefore the adult’s job to try and figure out what’s behind and look at the switchboard.
Maybe a child behaves badly because he is jealous of his little brother , or is tended to enter the maternal, maybe he is frightened because he heard a quarrel between the parents or he breathed some tension in the family . “When you realize that you are experiencing what your child is feeling, here you are experiencing empathy, which is the foundation of emotional training.When you are tuned to the emotion of the child, you can move on to the next stage.
2) Consider the moment of crisis of your child as a good opportunity to train him emotionally
When your child bursts into tears, or is angry or boring, instead of getting nervous and overwhelmed by negative emotions, be quiet and think of this moment as a great opportunity to train your child emotionally. Another absolutely avoidableattitude is to ignore or diminish negative emotions by thinking that they pass by themselves or are not important. On the other hand, children need to learn to understand what they feel by hearing it from their parents and in order not to grow up with insecurities they need to feel understood.