There is no role, other than parenting, that is likely to bring with it such a roller-coaster of emotions – joy, anger, happiness, frustration, pride, embarrassment, loneliness, and love - but a coaching approach can help to support you in your parenting.
Coaching is a way of developing people through conversation and a coach will have a certain approach and attitude towards their clients that will include some of the following elements: unconditional positive regard, belief in their ability to succeed, encouragement and motivation, firm boundaries and creating independence rather than dependence.
I believe that a coaching approach can form the basis of a great set of guidelines for parenting. As parents, we can harness the power of the unconscious mind to give children really positive messages about themselves and the world in general. Adopting a coaching approach in our everyday lives can also help us to be kinder to ourselves as parents and realise that we’re all doing the best we can.
Here are my tips for adopting a coaching approach to your parenting:
1. Listen – learn to give your children the gift of your time and attention. With family life busier than ever, we are so often distracted or hurrying when communicating with our children. By listening to them with time and space, with curiosity and no judgement or criticism even for just five minutes per day you will build trust and love between you.
2. Give responsibility – as parents we want to be sure that we are keeping our children safe and doing all we can to guide them through life, but one of the key ways in which children learn is by doing things for themselves. When you learn to recognise the situations in which your child can manage on his/her own, and feel comfortable stepping back, you will see their self-esteem flourish.
3. Be forgiving – to yourself and your children. Many of us have perfectionist tendencies, but as a parent you should have the ability to adjust your standards if you see that you have set them unrealistically high, and to be able to ask for help if you are struggling.
4. Ask coaching questions – how often do your children give one-word responses to “how was school?” or “tell me about your day”? Asking coaching questions – which begin with who/what/how/when – can inspire creative thinking and better problem solving, as well as opportunities for more meaningful conversations. Asking yourself and your partner some coaching questions can also help you to navigate the inevitable highs and lows of parenthood with more perspective.