John Gottman, a marriage and parenting researcher and author of books such as “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child” and “What Am I Feeling?” suggests that there are different styles of recognizing and responding to feelings – our own and our children’s feelings. He says that parents who are aware of their own emotional states well before these feelings grow stronger have an advantage over parents who don’t notice they are angry until they “pop their top”. Because these parents are more emotionally self-aware, they are better prepared to keep their interactions with their children on a more positive track.
For example, my response to my stepdaughter’s behavior will be different if I recognize the feeling of annoyance growing and deal with it before it blows up into the “hotter” feeling of anger. On the positive side, if I am able to recognize those more subtle, pleasant feelings–such as warmth, regard, or appreciation for her—the more often I am likely to offer her an affectionate word or gesture.
Becoming aware of our feelings and learning to manage them are some of the key milestones in the healthy development of our social and emotional selves. Recognizing and naming feelings helps us handle them better. When parents model naming their own feelings and handling them well, they help their children develop these important social emotional competencies.
Interested in more about parenting, social emotional competence, and emotional intelligence?
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