EXPLORING THE NEW FRONTIER IN
PARENTING – EMOTIONS
Emotions are now part of the parenting and educational
For some time they’ve been relegated as a sideshow to
the main events of discipline, confidence building,
character building, and lately, resilience.
The recently released movie Inside Out gives life to
emotions in a fun, accessible way. It’s a wonderful
demonstration of why we must put emotional
intelligence front and centre in our parenting and
teaching. The quickest pathway to happiness and
success is the acceptance and recognition of feelings.
Current day muse Dr. Marc Brackett, Director of the
Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence is more
expansive. He says, “Emotions matter as they drive
learning, decision-making, creativity, relationships, and
This is not to say that we ignore children’s poor
behaviour, neglect to set limits or not ask anything of
them when they’ve experienced hardship at school.
Accepting and recognising emotions is an added layer
in our interactions with kids, which may well be the
missing link in building cooperation, connection and
So where do we start? Here are five ideas to help you
explore the alien landscape of kids’ emotions, the new
frontier of parenting:
1. Listen first When your child fusses and fumes about
some wrong-doing or hurt they’ve experienced clear
your mind and listen. Avoid trying to fix the situation just
show understanding and compassion. There is no
better feeling then being understood.
2. Contain rather than manage (let your kids do the
managing) Children’s behaviour can become tangled
up in upsets and disappointments. It’s hard to separate
their behaviour from their feelings. Sometimes as a
loving, caring adult you just have to soak up their
feelings, and give them the time and space to soothe
their own souls. We don’t have to do that for them.
3. Know that emotions can be pleasant and
unpleasant We often place value judgements on
emotions by saying some emotions are good or positive
(happy, motivated, energised) while some are bad or
negative (sad, worried, sullen). Avoid passing
judgement in such ways. Recognise that emotions are
pleasant or unpleasant and that all emotions are
acceptable, whereas some behaviours (such as hurting
someone when you are angry) are unacceptable.
4. Build a vocabulary around emotions Just as
feelings have names, there are terms for the emotional
intelligent parenting method. For instance, I-messages*
are a type of communication used by parents and
adults who take an emotions-first approach.
5. Help your kids recognise, then regulate
emotions. Ever told a child to calm down only to see
their emotions escalate? Kids, like adults, need to
recognise their feelings before they can regulate their
emotional state, and that’s not easy. Emotional
recognition is a complex process that takes practice.
Even when we are good at it we don’t always get it
right. Learning to recognise your feelings is a
continuous process that’s best started when young,
before the ups and downs of adolescence becomes a
Emotional intelligence is best learned when it becomes
part of your family’s culture, or way of doing things.
When it becomes part of your family’s DNA then
emotional intelligence will be passed down from
generation to generation. You’ll know it’s had
generational impact when your children identify you as
the person who trained them in the skills of emotional
intelligence. How cool is that?
EXPLORING THE NEW FRONTIER IN