A Mother’s New Emotion-Coaching Skills Reduce Her Daughter’s Anxiety

A Mother’s New Emotion-Coaching Skills Reduce Her Daughter’s Anxiety

Olivia* used to suffer from terrible anxiety. At eight years old she was clingy and tearful at school drop-offs, experienced separation anxiety, and needed to co-sleep. She also has sensory issues and is extremely fussy over food. Olivia’s mum, Greta*, knew they both needed support, guidance and some new skills to help Olivia recover her confidence and to get their terribly disrupted daily lives back on track.

Greta wanted Olivia to attend some Play Therapy sessions at Family Works in Ashburton. While waiting for a space, she enrolled in a Tuning in to Kids course, which teaches parents how to emotion coach their children. The skills Greta learnt on the course proved so transformational that Olivia no longer needs therapy. Greta says, “Tuning in to Kids has changed our lives.”

Tuning in to Kids is a six-session course that teaches parents to recognise, understand and respond to children’s emotions in an accepting, supportive way. This approach helps children to become emotionally intelligent, i.e., to understand and manage their emotions.

Greta says, “I now understand the difference between listening and hearing my child. I can address a situation involving anger, frustration, fear or any other emotion simply by validating her and showing her empathy.”

For example, when Olivia was recently experiencing frustration over putting on her shoes and socks (due to sensory issues) Greta was quickly able to defuse the situation using her new skills:

Greta: “I see you’re getting frustrated, Olivia. Is it that stupid sock again?”

Olivia threw the shoe away and wailed, “I can’t stand the feel of it on my little toe. It feels like a hundred leaves in my shoe!” Then she cried.

Greta: “Oh sweetheart, I hate that feeling”.

Olivia stopped crying and with a lower, calmer voice asked, “Have you had that before Mummy?’

Greta: “Yeah, it feels terrible. I find after a few minutes of it feeling awful it actually feels better and you hardly notice it once you start doing other things”.

Olivia put her shoe on without fuss and they left the house.

Now, just a few weeks after completing Tuning in to Kids, Greta drops Olivia at the school gate with a quick goodbye and no tears; Olivia amuses herself without panicking if Greta leaves the room. She has even tried several new foods.

“I am so extremely grateful to have done the Tuning in to Kids course.” said Greta. “Olivia can share any feelings, upsets and fears with me with total confidence.” As a result, Greta has seen monumental changes in how she parents and in her daughter’s responses. And their relationship is much closer and stronger.


*Names have been changed and models used to protect identities.