The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Continuing education

Rachael Conlin Levy

My youngest child’s preschool requires attendance at a monthly parent meeting where moms, dads and grandparents gather to drink wine, touch on the business of running a co-op, and bone up on parenting skills. Last night’s meeting focused on emotion coaching, a method of helping children understand and cope with strong emotions. This morning I got to put what I just learned into practice when I asked Ivan to get dressed and he returned wearing a bathing suit and  swim shirt.


I sighed, let go of the goal of arriving at preschool on time, and embraced the opportunity to do a little “emoaching” with Ivan. Over the next forty minutes and through six outfit changes, I recognized my own emotions of irritation and annoyance, connected with my son’s feelings of indecision and frustration, and helped him think of ways he could wear the swim gear and still stay warm. Research shows that children who manage their emotions in a healthy way benefit with stronger friendships, can calm themselves down more quickly, do better in school, can handle mood swings easier, and get sick less often — all good reasons to use this parenting technique — but in the end it boils down to this:


I’d kept my cool, Ivan was in a chipper mood when I dropped him off at preschool, and the storm clouds that had gathered over my house had cleared. Happy, happy day!

In the interest of remaining connected to and emotionally aware of my own feelings, I admit that my embracing of this technique is not so much for Ivan’s benefit as for my own. That’s me, one selfish and smiling mama.

2 responses to “Continuing education”

  1. Christina says:

    This is in all ways far better than pitching a bowl of oatmeal across the kitchen, as I once did. And had to clean up afterward. (Please note I did NOT throw it at my child. Merely a venting of frustration on my part. But not one to be encouraged.)

  2. Heather says:

    Today I was talking to Alex (14) about what life was like parenting him as a preschooler. The truth is that I thought I was going to have to run away or kill myself. But it’s turned out okay. I applaud your patience; I always have been awed by your coolness, Rach. I think the insight that parenting advice is for the survival of the parent is a good one. Peace be with you. And the kids, too, if they are willing.

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