The barrier to warmth I want to mention is the developmental theory of behaviorism. Possibly it is a misinterpretation of behaviorism, but it does seem to be a prevailing parental philosophy and it affected my warmth as a parent. The theory, or misinterpretation of it, led me to believe that if a child exhibits “bad” behavior and a parent shows love to that child, the parent is reinforcing the bad behavior. Bad behavior must be punished or it will be reinforced and continue. A parent cannot let bad behavior go unnoticed and unpunished or the child will eventually get out of control with bad behavior. Parents must control their children. A parent must deliver a painful punishment after bad behavior to control the child and prevent future bad behavior.
I actually used to believe all that, but now I am changing my views! The theory of behaviorism was based on research in controlling the behavior of isolated and starving pigeons in cages whose opportunities to make choices was practically limited to whether or not to peck the bar to try to get a tiny morsel of food. It is now ludicrous to me to compare the reactions of starving caged pigeons to thinking, feeling, planning, organizing, active, motivated and highly complex children in a highly complex world. Children have higher thoughts and cognitive processes than pigeons do. Children literally wither and die without love from a caring parent or caretaker. How can we compare the two? Behaviorism only treats the behavior, not the reasons for the behavior.
Emotion coaching is a great way to start showing our children how much we value them. It has saved me from the cold unfeeling and unproductive ways of ways of behaviorism! Behaviorism hinders warmth and destroys relationships and self esteem. Emotion coaching facilitates warmth, increases self esteem and builds a solid relationship where issues can be resolved more quickly and effectively to the satisfaction of both parent and child.
Hopefully you were already way ahead of me on this one!