Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your child’s anger outbursts? Have you ever wondered how you can reduce these behaviours whilst keeping a positive relationship with your child? Have you ever used Emotion Coaching?


Research has shown that children with parents who emotion coach, were less likely to have behaviour problems, had better social relationships, had better physical health, did better academically and were more competent in their ability to regulate emotions. Parent counselling can help you learn how to emotion coach.


The 5 steps of Emotion Coaching parents need to master


1. Become aware of your child’s emotions

Listen to and observe your child for clues about how he or she is feeling. Try to notice the emotions, especially if they are of a lower intensity (e.g. disappointment, frustration), as this is the best time to use emotion coaching.


2. Connect with your child

View emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching. Make time, sit down with your child and encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings. Be willing to understand your child’s perspective and take your child’s emotions seriously.


3. Listen to your child

Communicate your understanding and acceptance of the emotion. Listen to your child in a way that lets him or her know you are paying attention and try not to judge or criticise emotions that are different from what you expected.


4. Name emotions

Help your children use words to describe what they feel. Name a range of emotions and talk about what these emotions mean and when people feel them.


Children of a younger age can struggle with naming or recognising the emotions they experience; however, parents can help them with acquiring this skill.

A useful tool is the set of “When I’m feeling …” books. Parents can read them with their children in order to enhance their understanding about emotions.


Parents can also hang a poster with ‘feeling faces’ on the fridge or on the child’s bedroom door, allowing children to learn more about emotions and emotional expressions, or point out how they are feeling in certain situations.




5. Find solutions

If necessary, help your children to solve problems and think through possible solutions. That way Emotion coaching is not only an opportunity to teach children about emotions, but also teach them problem-solving skills they can use in the future to deal with similar situations. If there is no solution (e.g. their dog died), just sit with the emotion and be there for them.


You may also communicate that all feelings are acceptable, but not all behaviours (e.g. everyone may feel angry, however, hurting other people or yourself due to this feeling is inacceptable). When children misbehave, explain why their behaviour was inappropriate or hurtful, and explore more appropriate reactions they can display in future situations.


When to use Emotion Coaching

Emotion coaching is not always appropriate, sometimes parents need to be more directive or action oriented (e.g. when their child runs out on the road). Using emotion coaching 30-40 % of the time is a realistic goal.


Never use emotion coaching when your child is experiencing strong emotions (e.g. furious, upset). Do it when the emotions are at a lower intensity so that your child is still calm enough to think through the situation. It is best practice to either intervene before the emotion escalates or come back to the situation after the strong emotion has passed and the child has calmed down again.


What parents need to consider when using Emotion Coaching

Parents model to their children ways of expressing and managing emotions. Furthermore, the ways that parents respond to children’s expressions of emotion shapes how they will express emotion in the future. So as parents, be aware of your own feelings and the way you manage them as it has an impact on your child.



When you use emotion coaching frequently, you will start noticing that there are many other emotions underlying children’s anger (e.g. being sad, confused, worried) and that anger outbursts can be avoided by discussing these underlying emotions when child is calm and engage in problem-solving behaviour.



So if you would like to build positive relationships with your children whilst working on their anger outbursts, why not give Emotion coaching a try? You can always give us a call to get more information. Our team of highly skilled and well-experienced psychologists are here to help.