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Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child

Self and Relationship Expert Julie Hanks, LCSW, Owner and Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, shares how you can become your child's "emotion coach" and help her develop emotional health.


As a parent, I find it's often easier to focus on my children's physical and external needs (food, shelter, clothing, grooming, education, relationships) than on their emotional needs. As a therapist I understand the crucial role that emotions play in our lives, but when I was a new mom and my own children expressed intense emotions, it was challenging to help them work through it. I tried hard not to shame or to dismiss their emotions, but I also didn't want their intense emotion to rule my life…or theirs. When I came across the work of Dr. John Gottman and his book Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child several years ago I remember thinking, "This fits with what I intuitively knew about parenting and it describes the parent I want to be!" It provided a framework to help me more effectively help my children understand and express emotions in healthy and productive ways.

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

According to Dr. John Gottman's research emotionally healthy, emotionally intelligent children are better able to regulate their emotions, calm their heart rate faster after being emotionally upset, had fewer infections, are better at focusing attention, have healthier peer relationships, and perform better academically. The best way to help you children achieve emotional health is to adopt an "emotion coaching" parenting style.

Dr. Gottman's 5 Steps to Emotion Coaching:

1. Be aware of your child's emotions

2. View emotional expression as opportunity for teaching and intimacy

3. Listen, empathize, and validate your child's feelings

4. Label emotions in words your child understands

5. Help your child come up with solution or way to manage emotions

Recommended Parenting Books:

Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman, PhD & Joan Declaire

Parenting From The Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell


Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women's mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn more about counseling services, workshops, & classes. Visit www.juliehanks.com for more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!

For help becoming an emotion coaching parent or to get help for you or your child's emotional health or behavior problems contact the professionals at Wasatch Family Therapy (801) 944-4555 for information on children, teen & adult counseling services.

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