Book: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting by John Gottman
Length: 213 pages
Cost: ~$10.00 on Amazon
“The ultimate goal of raising children should not be simply to have an obedient and compliant child. Most parents want much more for their children. They want their children to be moral and responsible people who contribute to society, who have the strength to make their own choices in life, who enjoy the accomplishments of their own talents, who enjoy life and the pleasures it can offer, who have good relationships with friends and successful marriages, and who themselves become good parents.” –John Gottman, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child
This book was a refreshing pleasure to read that led me to alter and enhance the way in which I interact with children and adolescents.
It starts off by talking about why emotional intelligence is even important:
“Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and ability to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships.”
It then encourages the reader to assess their parenting style by taking a short inventory, and doing minor calculations to determine the category they fall into.
The four styles of parenting are:
- The Dismissing Parent — Treats the child’s feelings as unimportant; disengages from or ignores the child’s feelings
- The Disapproving Parent — Similar to The Dismissing Parent, but in a more negative way; judges and criticizes the child’s emotional expression
- The Laissez-Faire Parent — Freely accepts all emotional expression from the child, but doesn’t offer any guidance on behavior; is permissive, doesn’t set limits, doesn’t teach the child about emotions or how to solve problems
- The Emotion Coach — Values the child’s negative emotions as an opportunity for intimacy; uses emotional moments as a time to listen to the child, empathize, offer guidance, set limits, and teach problem-solving skills
It then proposes the concept of “Emotion Coaching”, which provides a structured framework for emotional communication, which in turn will hopefully help to build and strengthen the parent-child relationship.
Emotion Coaching in 5 Steps
- Being aware of the child’s emotions (*includes and emotional awareness self-test*)
- Recognizing the emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching
- Listening empathetically and validating the child’s feelings
- Helping the child verbally label emotions
- Setting limits while helping the child problem solve
These 5 steps are explained in detail within the book, followed by some very specific and helpful strategies for employing emotion coaching with children.
It also includes some bonus topics such as the impact of marriage and divorce on a child’s emotional health, the father’s crucial role in emotion coaching, and even emotion coaching as a child grows older.
If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even if you interact with children and/or adolescents on a regular basis, I highly recommend you read this book! It was a definite game changer for me.