Summary: “Raising the Emotionally Intelligent Child” by John Gottman

I think it’s critical to teach kids about emotions early and often, especially kids with autism, who usually have a hard time identifying, understanding, expressing, and handling their emotions.  So here I summarize notes from John Gottman’s book, “Raising the Emotionally Intelligent Child.”

  • Parents need to make the best use of the golden moments they have with their children, taking a purposeful and active role.
  • How parents interact with their kids when emotions run hot is key.
  • It’s good for kids to be able to regulate their emotional states.
  • Parents should offer their children empathy and help them to cope with negative feelings.
  • Good parenting is based on empathy and understanding.
  • Even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and ability determines your success and happiness.  For kids, it means controlling impulses, delaying gratification, motivating themselves, reading other people’s social cues, and coping with ups and downs.
  • You can say, “I think I know how you feel.”
    • Become aware of the child’s emotion
    • Recognize the emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching
    • Listen empathetically, validating the child’s feelings
    • Help the child find words to label the emotion he is having
  • Don’t be harsh, critical, or dismissing of your child’s emotions.
  • See things from the child’s perspective.
  • The emotion coach can tolerate spending time with a sad, angry, or fearful child.
  • Confront your child’s sadness head on.  How do you feel?  Are you kind of sad?
  • Dismissing parents think children shouldn’t be sad.  They focus on the behavior rather than the emotion.
  • Sad children don’t always understand how to comfort and calm themselves.
  • Talk to children about their feelings.
  • Listen to their frustration and tell them it’s natural to feel letdown.  Validate them.
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