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My kid’s anger makes me so mad!

January 18, 2011
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What the Experts Say…

“I call the parents who get involved with their children’s feelings ‘Emotion Coaches.’ Much like athletic coaches, they teach children strategies to deal with life’s ups and downs. They don’t object to their children’s displays of anger, sadness, or fear. Nor do they ignore them. Instead, they accept negative emotions as a face of life and they use emotional moments as opportunities for teaching their kids important life lessons and building closer relationships with them.” (John Gottman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington, in his book, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child)

In Other Words…

When our children are in the middle of difficult emotions we can teach them great lessons if we know how to be emotion coaches. Children need to be taught that all of their emotions, not just the good ones, are normal and acceptable to feel. We can do this by acknowledging their emotions and not denying or overreacting to them. We can patiently help them express what they are feeling.

How This Applies to You…

When your child expresses negative emotions, such as fear or anger, it is not helpful to tell them they do not or should not feel that way. Instead you can help them process their feeling with understanding statements: “Wow. That sure made you frustrated!” “You wish your brother would leave you alone.” Keep trying to understand and describe the child’s feelings until he or she is peaceful. When children are feeling peaceful, you can them help them problem-solve.

To Find Out More…

For an excellent program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org and if you have children less than 5 years of age, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more on parenting, we recommend Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman or Between Parent and Child by Haim G. Ginott.

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