a happy family in the park

Name it to Tame It Emotional Coaching

Science-Based Strategies for Young Kids with Big Emotions


Emotion is the “magical potion” of life. It inspires our thoughts and moves us to action. Without emotion, life would be dull.

In this article you will learn how to create emotionally healthy children and manage emotionally-charged situations using science-based tools discovered by world renowned psychologists. These powerful techniques include “name it to tame it” and the 5-step method of emotional coaching young children on their journey towards self-mastery.

Why do young children have melt-downs? What is really going on in their brains? Take a deep dive into the underlying neurobiology in this fun and interactive video, filled with innovative tips, including the 3 simple steps to stopping tantrums in their tracks! Be sure to stay tuned for a fun surprise at the end!

A Child’s Best Friend

It was two days before my daughter’s 5th birthday. Our dog Dakota has tragically broken her leg the night before and was in great pain. The vet concluded that she suffered from bone cancer. 

It was an emotional rollercoaster and a whirlwind of ER vet visits, combined with sleepless nights. After hours of consultation with the experts and many tears – we let her go. 

Loosing our first family dog and best friend was hard, especially for a young child. Everything seemed to trigger the memory of Dakota – the stuffed animal collection, a stroll through the neighborhood streets, even vivid dreams! 

A year later, we are still coaching our daughter through the difficult feelings and traumatic experience of losing a dog. Recent writings at age 6 provide a glimpse into the complexity of emotions: “I love mom and dad. I miss Dakota even that you miss her too.”

Coaching a Child through Life’s Difficult Moments

As a neuroscientist mom who is well-read in the field of child psychology, the incident caught me off guard and completely unprepared to deal with strong emotions like grief. 

Doing what I know best, I began sifting through the early childhood emotional intelligence literature. That is when I encountered the concept of emotional coaching for the first time. 

In the days and months that followed, we learned, first hand, how emotional coaching works. We hugged our daughter and listened to her as she verbalized her feelings of sadness. We caressed her back during the tough emotional breakdowns and provided a nurturing and secure environment to express grief. 

We validated her feelings and confessed that we are also very sad. We encouraged her to express emotions through writing and talking about the wonderful memories that we all shared together, including the time when Dakota decided to steal raw steaks from the counter and eat our dinner! 

What Kind of Emotional Coach Are You? 

Resource: John Gottman’s Emotion Coaching DVD

The video describes 4 types of parenting styles and unique emotional responses to a child. Watch to find out how you deal with emotional situations and strategies to help you become even more effective.

Emotional Coaching Tools 

Guide your child through the emotional ups and downs of life using this 5-step method developed by world-renowned family psychologist, Dr. Gottman. 

Incorporating these tools into your daily interactions with your child will help them achieve emotional self mastery.   

1. Emotional Awareness

Help your child recognize feelings in himself and others before they spiral out of control.

2. Connecting

Show that you care by asking the child what is wrong? Tell me about it. Allow the child to fully express emotions. 

3. Listening

Listen to a child with empathy and understanding. Validate their feelings.

4. Naming Emotions

Verbally label your child’s emotions. When you “name it to tame it” the brain’s language and logic centers in the left lobe are engaged. As described by Dr. Daniel Siegel, building emotional vocabulary will strengthen connections between the raw emotions from the primitive amygdala and language processing centers, helping the child to feel calm and in control. This ability to self-soothe is one of the best skills to acquire during early childhood that will serve the child well into adulthood.

5. Finding Good Solutions

Guide your child to problem solve and brainstorm a solution. A physiologically calming action to the body such as deep, purposeful breathing or taking a walk is a good starting point. Creative solutions to a particularly emotionally charged situation will emerge from this place of calm. 

Emotional Mastery Brain Hacks

Tune into your child and teach them to trust their emotions.

Emotional coaching is most effective when you are calm and present, so if  you are in a hurry, differ coaching to another day.

After following hundreds of families and parenting styles, Dr. Gottman discovered that good emotional coaching parents only follow this method about 40% of the time with great results!

Parents and care providers are the first example of emotional control during the baby years. Their emotional self-mastery, reactions and sensitivity to a baby’s cry imprint the nervous system of a young child and effect on how the child will handle life’s ups and downs as they mature. 

You are your child’s greatest role model. As humans, we have evolved a specialized mechanism for mimicking others’ behaviors and learning new skills. A spaghetti-like brain structure located in the base of the brain activates mirror neurons when we observe someone performing a skill such as preparing food.

Your child is constantly watching how you manage your emotions and just about everything else. Keep this in mind the next time that you feel your blood pressure rising…

Parent effectively using science-based, child psychology brain tricks passed down from generation to generation in this interesting read.


Emotional coaching positively shapes a young child’s well-being and future psychological health.

Be sensitive to your child’s feelings and guide them through the proper response. 

Train emotional intelligence like you would any other skill – through repetition and consistency. Doing this well will create a strong emotional bond that will last a lifetime.

Children that are able to regulate their emotions form life long friendships, achieve greater academic success and are healthier physically and mentally.

Please remember to subscribe. 

Wishing you all the best on your journey! 


Developmental Manifestations of Grief in Children and Adolescents

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

The Whole-Brain Child

Mirror neurons 30 years later: implications and applications

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