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 Post subject: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:54 pm 
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Anyone reading this book?

Raising the Emotionally Intelligent Child
http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Emotional ... gent+child

I am about halfway through and so far am finding it really good. It is talking about parenting styles when it comes to addressing kids' emotions. There are 4 styles it talks about - dismissing, disapproving, laissez-faire and emotion coaching. Dismissing is described as not addressing the emotion and just trying to fix it, for example saying "don't worry, it will be better tomorrow" or giving them ice cream to make them feel better. Disapproving might be like saying "don't be such a baby." Laissez-faire is like the first 1/2 of emotion coaching (empathy) without the second half (setting limits, helping the child problem solve). Sometimes the book sounds a little judgy (I wouldn't have wanted to be one of those parents that said the wrong things in his studies), but so far I am finding it really interesting and potentially very helpful. It gives a lot of examples and dialogues of what one might say in different situations.

I was talking to my husband about it and when I described the disapproving style, he was like, "that was my dad!" I keep remembering my mom telling me "it's not the end of the world" when I was really upset as a child and that just infuriating me more. She was totally trying to help and make it better, but I just wanted my feelings acknowledged. Anyway, I have a lot of questions (I don't really know what they are yet) about how to parent and I am hoping that I can find some info to help me along the way.


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:08 pm 
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I haven't read it, but on the surface it sounds a lot like Love and Logic. You might like that one as well...although part of me finds the empathy-followed by problem solving thing very fake and manipulative.


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:19 pm 
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annak wrote:
although part of me finds the empathy-followed by problem solving thing very fake and manipulative.


Can you expand on that? It sounds very genuine to me. The problem solving isn't about getting them to do what you want them to do, but helping them to understand their emotions and what to do about them.


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:23 pm 
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annak wrote:
I haven't read it, but on the surface it sounds a lot like Love and Logic. You might like that one as well...although part of me finds the empathy-followed by problem solving thing very fake and manipulative.

Can you say more about that?

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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:55 pm 
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I was really hoping this was going to be about the latest trend of wealthy Manhattan parents hiring coaches to teach their children how to emote.

Other than that the only thing I have to add is that I'm a fan of Love and Logic.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:09 pm 
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It's probably just a me thing. Feigned empathy just seems very manipulative to me when I encounter it, and really it is reacting a certain way to get the result you want. The dialogs in these kinds of books always just seem really, really fake to me, and if my mother had reacted that way I would've wondered what she was on.


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:29 pm 
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Well it definitely shouldn't be feigned. Empathy is supposed to be relating to the feelings of others, not pretending that you do. I dunno about the dialogue in the Love and Logic book because I haven't read it. Maybe some of the wording is awkward and seems fake?


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:31 pm 
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Love and Logic is great (they have one for teaching, too), but I agree with annak that the dialogues can sound really manipulative. The idea is that you push the kid to figure out what's causing the problem/emotion and how to solve it by being sympathetic to their issues, but not letting them off the hook about how they might have been at fault in a situation. I chalk the manipulative feeling up to human dialogue not translating well to paper. And obviously you have to actually BE empathetic I think for this technique to work. I don't think it would work if you're not authentic and faking empathy, because kids will see through that (and also I don't think in general it's a good idea to tamp down one's empathetic response to their children because it has a potential side effect of callousness).

Never read this book, so not sure how it lines up with the L&L techniques.

and strawberryrock, ha! Some people need that, too! Where's that book??

P.S. I think my in-laws probably (unconsciously) used the love and logic/emotional coaching technique, but they are so far from talking like the people in L&L. Like, their version of empathy occasionally involves cussing each other out. BUT IT TOTALLY WORKS and their grown children are among the most emotionally healthy people I know. So, you just have to make it authentic!


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:35 pm 
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I don't think it has to be fake or ends-driven. In "How to Talk so Kids can Listen and Listen so Kids can Talk" the emphasis is really on remaining quiet and listening to what your kid has to say and then reflecting it back to have them feel heard. Happy Toddler has something similar and I really like it. Its weird, but it works with Leela.

Today I heard my husband say "Oh you feel mad! Mad! Mad! You really want that hair dryer! Want! Want!" And she quieted down and waited and then he went "Should I blow dry your hair?" And then she nodded and danced while he dried her hair for her. It was insanely cute.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:25 pm 
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annak wrote:
It's probably just a me thing. Feigned empathy just seems very manipulative to me when I encounter it, and really it is reacting a certain way to get the result you want. The dialogs in these kinds of books always just seem really, really fake to me, and if my mother had reacted that way I would've wondered what she was on.

I honestly don't think empathy is something you can feign. By its definition I don't think you can fake empathy.

I'm picturing it as being akin to learning active listening. It feels really fake when you're role playing or reading the scripts but when you actually do it with intention it feels very real and comes across as authentic and caring. Because it is. But to get there you have to go through the awkward bits first.

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"But really, anyone willing to dangle their baby in front of a crocodile is A-OK in my book."~SSD


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:40 pm 
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I think you can absolutely give the impression that you are feeling empathy when you are absolutely not. For some of us it's practically a job requirement to be able to do that when you don't have the energy or are in the wrong emotional space to really be empathic and I kind of think it's a job requirement of parenthood, too, to act loving when you're not feeling loving in the moment. But hopefully that's balanced by your being empathic and loving 90+% of the time.


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:00 pm 
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j-dub wrote:
annak wrote:
It's probably just a me thing. Feigned empathy just seems very manipulative to me when I encounter it, and really it is reacting a certain way to get the result you want. The dialogs in these kinds of books always just seem really, really fake to me, and if my mother had reacted that way I would've wondered what she was on.

I honestly don't think empathy is something you can feign. By its definition I don't think you can fake empathy.

I'm picturing it as being akin to learning active listening. It feels really fake when you're role playing or reading the scripts but when you actually do it with intention it feels very real and comes across as authentic and caring. Because it is. But to get there you have to go through the awkward bits first.


I agree with this. You really can't fake empathy with people. I think you can (and if its your job description, you have to :) ) pull up a little empathy and make it go a long way with people. I did pro-bono divorces and a big piece is leaving people felt heard. Even if you have no time and nothing they say is relevant, you can still pull up a little empathy, listen actively and have them feel like their story was validated in just a few minutes. But I don't think you can fake it, because people feel it.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:27 pm 
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I should have said "I" can't fake empathy. I am *terrible* at it and sound insincere and snarky. I have read that psychopaths are really good at that though.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:30 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:
j-dub wrote:
annak wrote:
It's probably just a me thing. Feigned empathy just seems very manipulative to me when I encounter it, and really it is reacting a certain way to get the result you want. The dialogs in these kinds of books always just seem really, really fake to me, and if my mother had reacted that way I would've wondered what she was on.

I honestly don't think empathy is something you can feign. By its definition I don't think you can fake empathy.

I'm picturing it as being akin to learning active listening. It feels really fake when you're role playing or reading the scripts but when you actually do it with intention it feels very real and comes across as authentic and caring. Because it is. But to get there you have to go through the awkward bits first.


I agree with this. You really can't fake empathy with people. I think you can (and if its your job description, you have to :) ) pull up a little empathy and make it go a long way with people. I did pro-bono divorces and a big piece is leaving people felt heard. Even if you have no time and nothing they say is relevant, you can still pull up a little empathy, listen actively and have them feel like their story was validated in just a few minutes. But I don't think you can fake it, because people feel it.

Yeah. I work with women in immense emotional (and often physical) crisis and my job is to be present to and with them. I don't always want to. Sometimes my own shiitake is triggered or I didn't sleep well or whatever. But for me to do this work in a good way means I need to put that stuff aside and be with them in their sorrow and fear. If I feel like I can't do that then I get support from my team and I don't go near a client.

Some of the women I work with have immense mental health challenges and border (or go whole hog) on verbally abusive and I set boundaries but I do it with empathy. I may dread that phone call all day (or all week) but when it comes down to it I put my stuff aside and I show up for them. I just really think that, by definition, there is no faking empathy.

And I think it's okay to say you can't do it right now! I have said the words "my empathy is gone for the day" to coworkers and friends. But I never think that showing up emotionally is manipulative or fakeable.

Anyway, I feel like this is going really off-topic, but I do think that modeling and providing empathy for kids is one of the most powerful things you can do as a parent or person in a kid's life. If we all learned empathy well my job wouldn't exist and I would be happy as a clam.

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"I'd rather have dried catshit! I'd rather have astroturf! I'd rather have an igloo!"~Isa

"But really, anyone willing to dangle their baby in front of a crocodile is A-OK in my book."~SSD


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:45 pm 
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I'll have to check this out - right up my alley! Positive Discipline is another book (and there are a few spinoffs now) that looks at authentic relationships and real communication. We've had lots of trainings on it at my preschool, and it can be really challenging when kids are driving you damn crazy in the moment, but ultimately solves the underlying issues and leads to strong bonds.


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:05 pm 
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I think that Tofulish and JDub have described what you have to do really well; pulling up empathy or showing up emotionally describes what you have to do as a parent really well. Modeling that sort of behavior is important if you want you child to grow up to learn how to empathetic and kind.

It's hard when you are tired, grouchy, and have your own demons to slay. Part of being a caregiver is to be able to set aside all of that for at least long enough to let the other person know that you heard them & know then are in need. Older children & adults can be told this while small children may need some distraction! (Never thought about a divorce attorney as a caregiver before. . .)

However, is there a word other than insincerity that describes "fake" empathy or am I desperately seeking a language like German for a precise word?

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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:00 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:
I don't think it has to be fake or ends-driven. In "How to Talk so Kids can Listen and Listen so Kids can Talk" the emphasis is really on remaining quiet and listening to what your kid has to say and then reflecting it back to have them feel heard. Happy Toddler has something similar and I really like it. Its weird, but it works with Leela.

Today I heard my husband say "Oh you feel mad! Mad! Mad! You really want that hair dryer! Want! Want!" And she quieted down and waited and then he went "Should I blow dry your hair?" And then she nodded and danced while he dried her hair for her. It was insanely cute.


I like the Happiest Toddler stuff in theory - it actually makes more sense to me *for this age* than the more reasoned L&L type stuff - but I have to say that in practice it usually makes V more upset, not less. Mirroring her emotions does not make her forget in any way that she isn't getting what she wants.


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:25 pm 
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I haven't read L&L, but so many people recommend it. He didn't just mirror though, he first mirrored and then offered her a solution that she could accept (not getting the hairdryer but still getting her hair dried). Leela is very clear about what she will and won't accept too :) Every morning she hates having her diaper changed, but accepts it as the price of going to feed the outside cats and make Mama's coffee (which she LOVES doing). So we take out the diap and she says no and we then say "Oh okay, but then no cats. If you put on diaper then we feed the outside cats!" And then she holds still while we change her and then they go feed the cats.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:15 am 
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Ariann wrote:
I think you can absolutely give the impression that you are feeling empathy when you are absolutely not. For some of us it's practically a job requirement to be able to do that when you don't have the energy or are in the wrong emotional space to really be empathic and I kind of think it's a job requirement of parenthood, too, to act loving when you're not feeling loving in the moment. But hopefully that's balanced by your being empathic and loving 90+% of the time.


Yes, this. There are also times that I ask her to go to her room until I can handle the situation, too. It gives her a chance to cool down and me a chance to collect myself and find empathy and a way to deal.


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:31 pm 
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This is how I try to talk to my kids. Some days I miss the mark, but when I am able to do this, it helps them feel better. The key is having the empathy be authentic though. I'm not placating my kids, I am truly showing that I care and giving them a vocabulary for their emotions. And I am in no way trying to manipulate them. I am trying to teach them coping skills. All of us need to learn how to feel our feelings in the moment, and then how to move on when the moment is done. That's all I'm doing with my kids. I can see, however, how reading the books makes it seem fake and weird. It is just so hard to make the conversation translate to the written word. Even though I use techniques like this, I still cringe when I see it written out. Every once in a while I type out an exchange I had with my kiddo to help another mom, and reading what I said always makes me feel like a total douche. All I can say is that if you are truly in the moment, and truly authentic, you won't feel like a douche talking to your kids this way.

As for Happiest Toddler and toddler-ease. I found it worked with my son and made things markedly worse with my daughter. Different things work for different kids, and what I love about that book is that it has a lot of ideas to choose from, so if something doesn't work, you can choose another. The emotion coaching approach seems like it's toddler-ease taken to the next level for older kids.


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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:13 pm 
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That is so interesting DEG! It makes sense that it works differently for different kids, but it really is like an off button for Leela's upsets.

I need to be better at practicing it, because it sure does help her not be upset.

The problem is sometimes I get triggered and react without mirroring and doing the Fast Food Rule :)

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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:01 pm 
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The big thing, really, that that book taught me was to never tell my daughter her feelings are wrong or off and to redirect her actions that are inappropriate, not to tell her that she is wrong for being so frustrated that she would act a certain way. I really liked the part that was like, "You can be mad at your sister, but you can't just yell at her like that." That, to me, was the "meaty" parenting to of the book. At first, it was odd, sure, but I mean all of the things I say with my heart--good mood or not.

I have since been reading nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg which is like the next step after Emotionally Intelligent Child.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotion Coaching
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:51 pm 
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I love Non-Violent Communication. I think that book changed my life.

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