Conscious Parenting for Emotional Intelligence Class

We have a soon to be threenager. He's willful, defiant and knows just the right tone of voice to shatter my last bit of patience. My husband and I agreed to back each other up in every arena including discipline but our toddler's ability to act like a tiny dictator left us without a game plan, searching for answers, so when we were offered a class that promised to teach us "how to de-escalate conflicts and get through to our child when he's upset," I signed us up.

Imagine what this face sounds like. I need some parenting guidance!
The class was offered with the new Montessori school BB will be attending starting in the summer. All the teachers at his school will attend the same classes that are offered to the parents so that the method is applied at home and at school. The Director of the Montessori really prioritizes the "village" that raises a child so these classes are part of the school's ongoing efforts to create a community between the teachers, parents and children.

Led by Mary Menninger, a Life Coach with a Master's degree in Spiritual Psychology, and Vanessa Wenninger, an elementary school teacher and Life Coach, the class was based on the book Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child The Heart of Parenting by John Gottman*.

For anyone who knows my husband, the idea that he willingly chose to take a class from a Spiritual Psychologist was surprising given his aversion to anything that sounds New Agey. Lucky for me, he doesn't read fliers so he had no idea but when the class started with a couple of visualizations/guided meditations, I thought for sure he was going to check out. Lucky for us he didn't. All the parent attendees in our class came as couples which was very surprising to our teachers because it seems not many dads attend their sessions.

The class can be broken down simply like this:

  • Think of an image that symbolizes one's family. Examples from our class included trees, houses, gemstones and crowns. 
  • Think of the characteristics that connect the symbol to one's family. The dad who said a crown in our class used that symbol because it represents strength and history. 
  • Surround that image with goals and objectives for the class. The most common answer in the class was more quality time and patience. 
  • Imagine waking up in the morning and setting the intention to achieve the previously defined goal or objective. One of the attendees suggested something she learned from another class which was to use an object trigger to remind ourselves of our intention throughout the day. For instance, using a doorknob or handle as an object trigger so every time one touches a doorknob, handle, cabinet pull, etc., the objective is reiterated. 
  • Almost all parenting goals can be achieved by consistent conflict resolution with our children. The recommended method of resolution is The "Peace" Process, in quotation marks because it's really the PEC process. 
    • P is for Pay Attention. When there is a meltdown, tantrum or conflict, assess the situation. Figure out the cause of the meltdown. Is it sleepliness, hunger, the need for control, etc. Almost every problematic situation with children are rooted in an unmet need.
    • E is for Express Empathy. Take a moment to empathize with onesself by acknowledging personal feelings of frustration or exhaustion. Then, express empathy to the child by expressing an understanding of how the child feels and asking them to confirm the accuracy of the understanding. This is particularly important because it helps give the child the feelings vocabulary to verbalize their feelings, a key part of emotional intelligence.
    • C is for Creative Solutions. Come up with solutions that incorporate the child's input. This is really child and situation dependent but there were great ideas tossed around by all the parents once we talked through the earlier steps. 
Since this was the introduction class, we didn't really get in depth with the creative solutions aspect and there was definitely more to delve into but given having a newborn and a hectic work schedule, we probably won't be able to make it to another class in the immediate future, unfortunately, but I will be picking up the book.

I cannot recommend taking a class like this or reading a book on Emotional Intelligence enough, especially if your co-parent is willing to do it along side you. I've already seen an increased patience from my husband towards our toddler and more quickly diffused potential tantrum situations with the implementation of the PEC process.

*Please note this is an Amazon Affiliate Link. If you like this post and want to buy the book, I'll get a small commission if you buy through the link I have provided.

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  1. Great read! Will definitely be checking into this in my area!

  2. Great read! Will definitely be checking into this in my area!