Thoughtful Parenting: Importance of emotion coaching

Becky Slamal/For Steamboat Today
Thoughtful parenting youth

As a parent, or another adult in a child’s life, one role you can play is that of an emotion coach. Emotion coaches help us develop emotional intelligence, which is the ability to understand our own feelings and the feelings of others so we can get along with other people.

Experts have found that our emotional intelligence is the biggest predictor of life happiness. Children with higher emotional intelligence are more likely to be sociable, cooperative, optimistic and able to solve problems. They tend to be better-behaved, less impulsive and enjoy higher academic performance. They are happier, have more friends and are more likely to be successful in life.

So what can we do as parents, teachers, mentors or other adults to help our children develop emotional intelligence?

Following are some suggestions.

• Validate their emotions and help them label their feelings: “I can tell how excited you are.” “You sound upset.” “Are you feeling worried?”

• Encourage them to talk about their feelings: “How did that make you feel?”

• Help them recognize cues as to how other people may be feeling: “What do you think was going on for her?” “How would you feel if that happened to you?”

• Help them be aware when their tension is building and what creates stress for them:

“I can see from the way you are clenching your jaw that you are feeling angry.” “Is this stressful for you?”

• Teach them how to calm themselves down: “Would it help to take some deep breaths?” “Would you like to go for a walk while we talk?”

• Teach them alternative ways of expressing their frustrations: “Can you think of a different way to let him know how angry you are?”

• Teach them how to solve problems: “Should we write down a list of things that might help and then decide which one to do first?”

• Teach them positive self-talk: “I’ve handled hard situations before; I can do this.” “This is going to be hard, but I can do it.”

• Recognize what motivates them to perform at their best: “Now that you have a plan, I can see that you are excited to make it happen and reach your goals.”

• Check-in to see how things went. This helps provide accountability and recognize progress.

As a parent, as well as a professional in the field of youth development, I see opportunities for all of us to make a difference in developing the next generation of leaders by helping develop emotional intelligence. Take the time to become more mindful of your own emotions so you can help others do the same.

Excerpts from this article were taken from

Becky Slamal is the community outreach manager at Partners in Routt County. She has worked in the field of youth mentoring for more than 15 years and has a master’s degree in professional counseling. As a Steamboat native, she is enjoying raising her own daughter in the community she grew up in.

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