Man playing with bubble with little girl

In today’s Weekday Homework Assignment, we’d like to share a few simple ways in which you can apply Dr. Gottman’s first two principles of Emotion Coaching in your own lives. By putting the following Emotion Coaching tips and strategies into practice this week, you will not only improve your relationship with your children in the short-term, but you will also build a foundation for the enrichment of your family’s emotional connections for years to come:

  • If you have youngster at home, try playing a game with some stuffed animals. Enact a scene in which one of your child’s toys gets angry, or sad, or in some way upset, and talk through various ways in which the other stuffed animals could help the first one get through the problem. Sharing fantasies and role playing is often the best way for little ones to learn about emotions on their own – engaging in imaginative play with them allows you to be a part of this amazing process.
  • If you notice your child expressing any kind of strong emotion while spending time with them on an outing or at home, show genuine interest in their experience. Engage with them in a conversation about it in an attempt to help them express why they are feeling this way. Ask them questions depending on what emotions you see your child expressing: “Are you feeling scared right now?” “Was that really exciting” “Do you want to come over and cuddle with me?” Put yourself in their shoes, making sure to be gentle. As you might recall, being a kid can be overwhelming.
  • When you are on a car trip, out taking a walk, or find yourself in a similar situation in which you have time on your hands with your little one, play a storytelling game – invent fictional characters who, at certain points in the story, experience various emotional and psychological difficulties. Work together playfully to find solutions to the characters’ problems.


Remember, these tips are not for “one-week-only” use AND they are not “sold separately.” To make a lasting Emotion Coaching impact on your child, be sure to remember these principles and carry them with you in the future! As the years go by, your kids will grow to understand themselves and others with greater ease, and begin to apply the knowledge you imparted to them to their lives all on their own. Maybe one day, they’ll use these steps in raising their own kids!

To learn more about the many ways in which your family relationships can affect your child’s life – their future success, ability to relate to others, and long term happiness – be sure to watch the following video, and follow our YouTube channel.

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.