“The laissez-faire style” is when a parent encourages a
child to let all of their feelings out, but there are no boundaries
around the accompanying behavior. “However you feel and
want to express that is fine with me. Go ahead and let all your
feelings out.”
The fourth and healthiest is “the emotion coaching
style” which empathizes with any feeling expressed and then
helps a child figure out how to self regulate. “I understand that
you feel angry, and I have felt that way as well. It is not ok to
kick someone when you are feeling this way. Let’s figure out a
way for you to deal with this feeling.”18
I mostly saw my own parenting style reflected in the
dismissive and disapproving categories. Acknowledging this
led to feelings of regret and shame, but grace and gentleness
also showed up. Grateful for a way forward, I committed to
pursue the role of emotion coach. The expression of
“negative” emotions became fertile ground to both learn and
teach that we all feel a variety of feelings. “There’s no such
thing as a ‘bad’ emotion. It’s how we handle our emotions that
matters.”19 There would be many moments and situations in
days ahead when I had to, implement the important task of
mirroring my kids, put on my coaching hat, and get to work.
One particular Sunday morning, I was given the chance to
practice my growing mirroring skills with our daughter.
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