How to emotion coach for emotion processing, with Lauren Stauble


In this week’s episode, I was jazzed to connect with the co-creator of our CEP method, Lauren Stauble. Lauren stumbled into early childhood development when she took a job working in an infant room after graduating with a studio art degree. She was surprised to find that early childhood development was something that she grew to be extremely passionate about and ultimately decided to further her education and make a career of it. She is particularly passionate about preschoolers, social justice, and emotional justice.

Lauren approached me about writing our book when we realized we were doing something different in the world of emotional processing. Our CEP method is the basis for our upcoming book and the approach that we implement with tiny humans and that we feel is a true game-changer. 


Lauren and I dove right into sharing the five phases of emotional processing. 


Phase One of Emotion Processing: ALLOW. Allowing an emotion it is just simply having the feeling. We often distract our tiny humans (and ourselves) out of their feelings. We are not necessarily comfortable with our own or our child’s discomfort. Allowing the emotion can actually be quite challenging. In terms of our kids, it can be helpful to remember the language of cries and that crying and other big outbursts can be healthy forms of emotional expression. 


Phase Two: RECOGNITION. To help a kiddo, we could offer the word or a visual aid to help them recognize the feeling they are having. Although we often think of this starting with preschoolers, this can happen earlier than we expect in tiny humans. Lauren shared that when we are unsure of the emotion that a young child is feeling, offering a guess can be helpful. It can also be powerful as the adult in the situation, helping you be present to help the kiddo move through the processing. 


Phase Three: SECURITY. Remembering and knowing that the emotion is temporary. Lauren and I discussed how it can be really scary to feel stuck in an emotion. It is easy to forget that we won’t always feel that way. This is the same for tiny humans. Helping them remember that it won’t always feel this way can be very powerful.


Phase Four: COPING. Coping can look like many different things for different people. And there is also a distinction between coping mechanisms and coping strategies (check out episode 38 for more on that). Lauren shares that coping mechanisms are things that are not a conscious choice, but a reach for something so that you don’t have to feel your emotion in that moment. The goal isn’t to completely eliminate coping mechanisms. They exist and will be with us for all of our life. They can help us survive when we are not in a place to put a strategy into place. Coping strategies actually help you process the emotion. If we don’t teach kiddos coping strategies, they will develop coping mechanisms. Strategies usually have to be taught or modeled. Lauren and I discussed examples of both mechanisms and strategies and how to move from mechanisms into strategies when building an emotional coping toolbox. 


Phase Five: MOVING ON. Conflict resolution is the easiest part if you’ve done the first four phases. It’s important to keep in mind that if a kiddo is still crying or in the midst of a big emotion, they are not ready to solve the problem and move on. Problem-solving too fast prevents kiddos from building the toolbox of security and coping so that they can process their emotions effectively in the future. 


After laying out the five phases of emotional processing, Lauren and I dove into some more detailed nuances. We talked about what coping mechanisms look like in kiddos and how to move towards coping strategies. We discussed the importance of making a distinction between sympathy and empathy and approaching emotional processing with empathy. 

Lauren also emphasized how important it is to recognize how race and privilege can impact emotional processing. We talked about the importance of recognizing implicit bias regarding both race and gender and the ways in which biases can impact early childhood development and the way we interact with tiny humans.

We wrapped up our chat by addressing intensive parenting and the ways in which that can lead to anxiety in parenting. The CEP method can be helpful in alleviating some of that parental anxiety because it pulls us out of the cycle of worry and into the present with tangible steps to help our tiny humans. Building these toolboxes with our kiddos is also an opportunity for building trust so that they will feel safe coming to us for help when they need it. 


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