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Be Your Child’s Own Success Coach in Life

November, 2017
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In a world where children are under more pressure and stress than ever, parents are also by default under that kind of pressure. We see what it takes to grow up in the new millennium and we want to protect our children from these challenges. Some people even see it is somehow easier for children of today because of the choices they have and the technology they have access to.

I watched my own children struggle with the stressors of too much choice – constant bombardment of technological messaging and the need to be seen and to be ‘cool’ at all times. I realised that with social media and mobile phones, my girls were not being allowed to be alone, even behind their closed bedroom doors. This makes life tough and sets them up for an adulthood of fear of being alone; feeling inadequate in all areas and feeling it is not okay to be truly authentic and speak up about weaknesses and struggles.

As parents of millennial born children, we have it tough! There are many parenting programs out there telling us how we ‘should’ do it and I took a few of those myself. I generally left them feeling that this wasn’t going to work in my specific situation and often feeling very judged for my lack of perfection.

lisa-1e589afe69cac1What I found worked instead for me was my coaching skills, and my ability to create a rapport. Not the parenting monologues suggested, but true dialogues where one person would speak and another would really listen and respond accordingly. Where language was always empowering and curious and not angry or dictatorial.

So, what is coaching in the sense that we use it here? It has some similarities with sports coaching in that a sports coach helps prepare the player and then has to watch on the sidelines as their player or team take their learning and apply it to the game. They can’t run onto the pitch and grab the ball and run with it. In parenting we tend to want to run on the pitch and save our little star player. We don’t want anyone to run into them or grab the ball or worst of all maybe, we don’t want to see them lose and have to face that.

Coaching is now widely used in business to help maximise performance, build self-esteem, enhance decision-making skills, support the development of excellent communication skills and therefore help the individual, their team and their organisation towards greater success and fulfilment. Not to tell them the answers but to empower them to do their own best thinking, become more creative and make better decisions – and this is all of what I chose to bring into my own parenting style and now bring to other parents.

Becoming your child’s own success coach is about bringing all of this great skill into your parenting style in a way that is supported by 21st century child development research. It is about developing the communication skills and intuition and listening that will help you to build a wonderful relationship with your children that will support them to flourish. It is about recognising that we as parents don’t have all the answers to being a child just because we were children once!

Maybe I can put this in context with a real life coaching assignment that I was given with a 13-year-old girl. Her mother had heard about coaching and asked her daughter if she would like to try a session. In the first session, the girl told me that she loves her mother dearly but is scared to tell her anything because she “always panics and starts fixing it but in a way that makes it worse.” She said she couldn’t speak to her father because he is always working and if she does get to share anything with him, “it needs to be something that I achieved really well for him to be very interested.” She speaks to her friends at school but feels they give her terrible advice and she doesn’t feel able to ignore their advice once proffered because they would be very offended.

So, she smiles a lot and pretends all is well to everyone – and struggles internally a lot. When I first spoke to her she was beginning to drop down in her grades at school, getting lower than usual standard school reports and was reacting strongly to her parents and “playing up” at home. All very natural reactions to what she was experiencing internally.

We worked through a whole series of areas in which she could learn to manage her own emotions better and therefore communicate better with others. As a children’s success coach I aim to blend coaching skills with small points of sharing about the topic rather than giving advice. This way of really listening and being curious and offering skills and ideas that they might choose to use is a great application of coaching skills.

In these sessions, some examples of what we worked through include:

Managing her own emotions. She learnt to slow down her reactions and to see what was really triggering her reactions and how she could manage the situation differently.

How to communicate better with mum. What preparation did she need to do in order to have the type of conversation with her mum that she really wanted to have? What was her own responsibility in having better conversations with her mum?

How to speak to dad. What did she really want and need from her conversations with him and how could she get those things?

How to study in a way that suits her own style and way of doing things?

She grew in confidence, in emotional maturity and in academic success in a very few months. She told me she feels much happier in her relationships and feels that she has a great set of decision-making tools as well as the levelheadedness to use them wisely. Her dad asked if he could have some coaching too!

Obviously this was coaching done with a professional coach, someone external to the family, and sometimes that is perfect. But a child’s parents are, I would suggest, even better for this – they are there every day, and can create a whole atmosphere and environment of empowerment and support.

Coaching can help families to:

Consciously design and build their own Family Space. Family Space is about the environment in which your family move through life. Making space is not just for the children, but also for the parents to grow and develop their own relationship, as a couple as well as parents.

Communicate with their children in a new and evolutionary way. To learn to listen transformationally so that the child wants to open up and share more deeply with their parents.

Reduce stress! There is so much stress in modern life and a coaching approach to being together as a family enables better support throughout the family and teaches children how to manage stress more healthily.

Support children in being truly successful in life – not just to perform well but also to laugh a lot, to feel more comfortable in their own skin and to think for themselves.

What we tend to forget as parents is that our children are actually more evolved than we are. In the time gap between us coming into this life and them arriving in their own lives, human consciousness has moved on, as has the world at large. Many of the children being born now have very, very old souls – they bring a wisdom to the world that we as younger souls don’t have. I know my children seemed like very old souls from the moment they arrived, with innate wisdom that I couldn’t say where it had come from.

Coaching allowed me to help them to tap into and nurture and nourish that innate wisdom. Instead of telling them what I felt I already know, it helped me to dig into their intuition and help them to learn the skill set of decision making in preference to the quality of obedience.

And it’s never too early or too late to start. A coaching approach to your own relationships can start even before parenthood. You can create a Family Space where babies are more likely to develop into confident, relaxed, happy little people who are much more likely to become resilient, creative, confident teenagers.

A little understanding of the psychology and developmental stages of children and teenagers can go a long way towards managing your own reactions and emotions along the way.

And the final word here goes to our children. The children I coach tell me that they don’t want to be told that you understand them. They don’t believe that’s possible. They want to feel heard. And respected. And trusted. An early start to creating a culture of coaching in your family will make that all the easier when those challenging teenage years come around.

By Lisa Wynn,

Chairman of International Coach Federation (ICF) coach mentoring committee, and ICF examiner for Professional Certified Coach (PCC) & Master Certified Coach (MCC) application. She was awarded the "Best Executive Coach of the UK " and won " ICF Prism Award" in 2016.

 

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