What kind of parent are you?
Love them or hate them, you’re bound to resemble your parents, one way or another. If they were loud, chances are that ‘inside voice’ is not your default-setting. If they were moaners, you may struggle to notice the silver linings in the storms. And that’s okay – we don’t need to resist the way our parents influenced us – whether it was through their discipline, or genes. It’s better to learn from these traits, and harness them.
Dr .Gottmann, from the Gottman institute, did a great number of fascinating studies. According to him, the key to good parenting lies in how they handle the emotions of their kids. Essentially, they identified 4 types of parents when it comes to handling difficult emotions. Take a look below: What kind of parents did you have?
The Dismissive Parent
“Just Get Over It!”
Sounds like: ‘It’s not that bad, baby.’ ‘Don’t be sad – that’s completely unnecessary.’ ‘There’s no reason to feel that way.’ ‘Don’t Cry.’ ‘Stop shouting!’
Dismissing parents tend to avoid or dismiss emotions. Their motto is “just get over it.” By ignoring emotions, they miss the opportunity to connect when their child needs them most. To handle their child’s emotions they:
- Tell them there is no reason to be sad.
- Suggest that their child’s own feelings shouldn’t be trusted.
- Dismiss their own emotions and discourage the child from sharing feelings.
The Disapproving Parent
“You shouldn’t feel that way!”
Sounds like: ‘You should be grateful.’ ‘You shouldn’t be jealous.’ ‘It’s not right to be angry at her.’ ‘There is no reason to cry.’ ‘You’re better than this.’
This is similar to the dismissive parent, however, disapproving parents also believe that expressing emotions is morally wrong, or a sign of weakness. They are not just uncomfortable with feeling sad or angry, but they have a negative attitude towards it. They disapprove or suppress their own emotions, and treat their child’s feelings negatively. They believe that:
- Negative emotions are a waste of time, reveal bad character, and need to be controlled.
- Children use negative emotions to manipulate their parents.
- Emotions make people weak, and a child needs to be tough to survive.
- Some emotions are ‘sinful’ or ‘morally wrong’ and need to be avoided.
The Laissez Faire Parent
Sounds like: ‘That’s okay.’ ‘I agree!’ OR No response : just allowing the child free reign of emotion & behaviour.
Laissez-faire is a French term that means “let it be”. Laissez-faire parents are also uncomfortable with emotions, but they have the opposite approach to dismissive or disapproving parents: their children believe that all emotions are accepted no matter how they behave. These parents fail to help children understand emotions or teach them how to manage their emotions. Children raised with this “anything goes” approach:
- Can struggle to calm down when they are angry, sad, or upset.
- Find it more difficult to concentrate or learn new skills.
- May not do as well in school
- May not pick up on social cues, and may find it harder to make friends.
The Emotional Coaching Parent
“I would also feel that way. Let’s look at what we do now.”
Sounds like : “You must feel very angry” “Did that make you feel sad?” “You seem upset, honey, what happened?” “I would also feel jealous, dear.”
Becoming an emotion coach starts with yourself. (Emotion Champ). It’s a process that anyone can learn, with the help of a few tools, and a bit of practice. Once you have a bit more skill in handling your own difficult emotions, you can start coaching your child.
The 5 key steps are
- Be aware of your child’s emotion.
- See the moment that your child expresses their emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching.
- Listen, empathise and validate your child’s feelings.
- Help your child to label their emotions with words.
- Set limits when you help your child to solve problems, without denying / dismissing / suppressing their emotions.
Raise an Emotion Athlete
Emotions, like our bodies and intelligence, can be trained. Those who get ahead in life, have near-athletic abilities when it comes to their emotions : they can flex, bend and harness them to achieve their goals in life. If you want your child to become a pro-athlete with their own emotions, some of your goals for yoursef and them, should be to:
- Be able to identify and describe your emotions.
- Value all feelings, but not all behaviour.
- Distinguish between emotions, beliefs, motives and behaviour.
- Allow difficult emotions, and give appropriate expression to these
- Regulate their emotions when and where necessary
- Express their emotions when and where necessary.
Children who have been raised by parents who emotionally coach them, have many advantages:
- They can regulate and manage manage their emotions.
- They can calm themselves down, without suppressing their emotions.
- They get along with others better.
- They have stronger friendships with others.
- They don’t get sick often.
What were your parents like? Do you share their traits? If you’d like to learn about emotional resilience, why not schedule a FREE discovery call to learn more about how I can help.