Encompass offers parenting class about emotions

September 6, 2011

By Laura Geggel

Encompass’ “Emotion Coaching” parenting class is back by popular demand.

A class scheduled for Sept. 22 in the Issaquah Highlands is already full. A second class has been set for Oct. 5.

“I think the reason the workshop keeps filling up so fast is that it’s a relatively new area for parents to be talking about,” Encompass parent education and support manager Kerry Beymer said. “We all are so accustomed to talking about physical development and academic development, but social and emotional development is just as important, and parents are starting to realize that.”

The first 35 parents or caretakers who register for the free, two-hour workshop will learn how to acknowledge and respect children’s feelings before they begin problem solving with the child about how to best handle the situation.

The workshop targets parents of preschool and grade-school students.

If you go

Encompass ‘Emotion Coaching’

  • 6-8 p.m. Oct. 5
  • YWCA Family Village at Issaquah Commons
  • 949 N.E. Ingram Way
  • Register online for the free class at www.encompassnw.org or by calling Kerry Beymer at Encompass at 888-2777.

On the Web

Watch a video about the Emotion Coaching class online at www.parentingcounts.org. Click on “Professionals” and then “See Parenting Counts in Action at Encompass in North Bend, WA” in the left-hand column.

“This is really around that age where you are trying to help them have good self-regulatory skills,” Beymer said.

Encompass is a children and family services organization serving the Snoqualmie Valley and the greater Eastside.

Last October, Beymer attended a training held by the Talaris and Gottman institutes, enabling her to become a certified Talaris Parenting Counts instructor. The evidence-based workshop allows parents to act as their children’s “emotion coach,” she said.

When Beymer offered the first class in March at Blakely Hall, so many people signed up that she ended up offering two sessions.

One of the workshops helped Issaquah Highlands mother Valerie Korock step back and assess a situation between herself and her children.

One night, she caught her son coloring with crayons in his bed.

“For me, that’s not OK because we color at the table,” Korock said.

Yet, when she tried to take away her son’s crayons, he became upset. Normally, she would just tell him rules are rules, and tell him to go to sleep. But, after taking the class, she acknowledged her son’s feelings, and asked him why he was upset.

It turned out her son was drawing a secret picture for his father, and he wanted it to be a surprise. Working together, mother and son solved the problem; he could not color in bed, but she allowed him to hide his art downstairs so his father wouldn’t learn about the secret.

“It’s hard, I can’t do it all the time,” Korock said.

But, statistics are on her side. Observational research has shown that parents who use the “Emotion Coaching” techniques 30 percent to 40 percent of the time still have favorable results with their children.

“The more you use them, the more your kid is going to have self-regulatory skills, which is good for school and friends,” Beymer said.

During the workshop, she asks parents how they feel about emotions.

“Some people really believe that emotions mess up your thinking and you shouldn’t have emotions and you should just focus on the facts,” Beymer said. “Some people really let emotions guide their thinking.”

Parents handle their children’s emotions differently. For instance, dismissive parents may not acknowledge or discuss their children’s unhappy feelings, saying, “Oh, I know you’re sad, let’s go eat a cookie,” Beymer said.

When parents dismiss emotions such as sadness or anger, children do not learn how to deal with those emotions.

Yet another type of parenting, called disapproving parenting, happens when parents invalidate their children’s emotions.

“The disapproving parent is always saying, ‘You shouldn’t feel like that. You have no right to be mad about that right now,’” Beymer said.

Parents attending the workshop will learn they can accept their children’s feelings without approving of them.

“You can say, ‘I get it, you’re upset right now. Let’s talk about it,’” Beymer said.

Laissez-faire parents leave their children alone, letting them work out their tantrums by themselves.

Finally, “Emotion Coaching” parents act like consultants, acknowledging emotions and working with the child to solve the problem.

“All parents go through all of those stages,” Beymer said.

The “Emotion Coaching” class allows parents to adjust their styles for all types of children, Korock said. After learning about the varied parenting styles, she realized her parents were more laissez-faire toward her, meaning she has to educate herself now to act differently.

Overall, she called the class “encouraging.” Though her daughter was 3 years old and her son was only 15 months old when she attended the workshop, her son is already absorbing some of the lessons.

“I was shocked because I didn’t think he was old enough to understand, but it was interesting because we did it with her, so we did it with him,” she said.

“Watching him grow through the toddler years, he seemed to have a different ability to express his feelings and his needs and his wants.”

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