Emotion Basics 2017-09-14T14:58:21-04:00

Emotion Basics

Emotion basics are at the foundation of emotion coaching. Each of the basic emotions are important because they give us information on how to react to different situations. This information will help guide parents to recognize emotions in their children AND know what the child needs in order to move through their emotional experiences.

Every emotion has:

  • A bodily felt sense
  • A label that can be communicated in words
  • A need
  • An action tendency
 Label Bodily Felt Sense Need Action Tendency
Fear Heart racing
Sweaty palms
Slowed digestion
Safety and protection Run, hide, etc.
Sadness Heaviness
Comfort Get a hug
Anger Heart racing
Feeling hot/flushed
Tension in the body
A boundary
Defend the boundary

Parents can use this information to help their child. For example:

Knowing what each of the emotions “looks like” will help parents identify which emotion their child is experiencing more

Knowing the label for each emotion will help parents teach their child how to put into words what they are experiencing. The label will eventually help their child to recognize the experience within their own body. When an emotion is labeled, it helps to regulate the experience.

Knowing the need associated with each emotion will help parents know how to respond to their child’s emotional experience.

Knowing the action tendency for each emotion will help parents know what to do in order to help their child move through the experience.

A word of caution! Anxiety is not an emotion – and its need is not safety nor is it protection. Fear is in response to a real threat, whereas anxiety is in response to an imagined threat or stressful experience. Rather than safety or protection, anxiety requires gradual exposure to the situation in order to extinguish the learned response.

Learn the Steps of Emotion Coaching