The Attitude Doc- Weekly Life Change Lessons

In 1989 I wrote a book called ABC Feelings. The concept was to correlate feelings with the alphabet. In lieu or in addition to learning that “A is for apple or airplane” a child could learn that “A” is also for feeling “accepted”. As the years passed, other products were added such as a poster, music with children’s voices, flash/activity cards, placemats, a feelings dictionary, a carpet and others. This idea behind the theme is that children could learn the language of feelings and feel empowered, as they were able to identify and express the variety of feelings they were feeling. As the products are interactive, the adult (parent or teacher) would also be engaged in the process and become skilled to hear those feelings, honor them and assist the child in better understanding and moving through the particular feelings.

John Gottman, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington and the author of Why Marriages Succeed or Fail in addition to the book listed in the quote portion of this blog. His vitally important message teaches the importance of being aware of a child’s emotions, recognizing emotional expression as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching, listening empathetically to validate a child’s feelings, labeling emotions and helping a child problem solve.

Dr. Gottman describes four styles of parenting:      The Dismissing parent      The Disapproving parent      The Laisse-Faire parent

     The Emotional Coach.

Although his book tends to focus on parenting, I advocate that we all take the test he provides in the book to determine if we indeed wear the hat of an emotional coach. A few of the qualities of this style are: respects the child’s emotions, does not feel a need to “fix” every problem encountered, and uses emotional moments to listen to the child.

The two distractions were shortly joined by yet another sound. This time it was an alarm from my Palm Pilot that was informing me of an appointment in five days from now. With this, I broke into laughter that seemed to dismantle the tension that was building up from the traffic as well as the annoying company of my electronic companion.

The message that Dr. Gottman and I are spreading is one that promotes the language of feelings as a foundational building block for a joyful life. It’s not only good for parents, it’s good for any of us who feel a desire to add more meaning to our existence, abundant with a deep connection to our friends, an ability to honor and express feelings to a employer, parent, neighbor or co-worker and the desire to enhance the energy on the planet through integrity and the use of authentic power.

Yes I know, you were supposed to learn this as a child and your parents didn’t teach you. Okay, time to give that one up, dowse the energy that feeds the victim and be accountable for your reality. Be brave and take the test on page 43 of Dr. Gottman’s book take the appropriate steps of action to step into the shoes of an emotional coach.

Each day I develop more deeply the skill of emotional coaching to be there for my children as well as others I encounter. In so doing, my relationships deepen and radiate an abundance of love and joy into my world.

Most parents… 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.

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child
by John Gottman, Ph.D.

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Any advice contained herein or from The Attitude Doc, Alexandra Delis-Abrams, Ph.D., represents the opinions of same, the author/owner of the website, and is intended for the purposes of encouraging self-exploration and personal evolution. The Attitude Doc website, Alexandra Delis-Abrams, Ph.D., articles, and any information contained herein, should be considered supplementary to and not a substitute for advice you may have received from another professional.