Most helpful critical review
I Can't Get It To Work
on June 22, 2013
The author should be commended for taking a scientific approach to parenting. He concisely states his thesis on page 24, and fleshes it out for the remainder of the book.
Briefly, parenting can be broken down into three styles: "dismissing," "disapproving," and "laissez-faire." All three are damaging to the child's development, and detrimental to the child's well being. The preferred alternative is to be "emotion coaching." Gottman's five steps for raising an emotionally intelligent child follow:
1. become aware of the child's emotion;
2. recognize the emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching;
3. listen empathetically, validating the child's feelings;
4. help the child find words to label the emotion he is having; and
5. set limits while exploring strategies to solve the problem at hand.
The challenge is: I can't get his advice to work. The problem lies in the unstated intermediate step between (2) and (3). Picture this scenario:
* Your toddler is not getting his way.
* You are aware of the child's frustration, and recognize it as the opportunity it undoubtedly is for intimacy and teaching.
* You try to listen, validate and label the feeling - but your toddler isn't interested. All he does is scream and screech at the top of his lungs, flail his limbs, resisting all attempts at reason or discussion. This devolves into a mini tantrum.
What is the preferred method of calming a child when any method of comforting that you try fails? Do you ignore the child until he calms down? That would be dismissive... Do you admonish the child sternly, when he begins pushing, shoving, etc.? That would be disapproving... The alternative is to let the tantrum progress, and the child to do as he pleases. But that would be laissez-faire...
I've sent the author numerous emails, pleading with him help me troubleshoot the process. They have all gone unanswered, which is very disappointing.
tl;dr The process isn't working for me, and the author isn't helpful. I regret the $21 CAD spent.