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Parenting Skills and Benefits of Coaching Your Child

Emotional development and social development are key parts of child development. Good parenting skills can help your child with these issues.

Why Is Parent Coaching Important?

Childhood follows the example set by the computer: it keeps being reinvented. Advancements are continuously introduced that raise standards and improve quality, but these ultimately lead to more complex problems in function. Today's world offers children the richest opportunities for intellectual growth while undervaluing the need for informed and involved parenting. Children turn to popular peers, media icons, and commercial trends as their behavior guides. Deficits in social and emotional skills are the result. The sensational news stories of child violence are just the tip of the iceberg. Examples of emotional immaturity, poor judgment calls, and other social handicaps are in evidence in the home, school, mall, and most places kids are found.

The typical unevenness between children's intellect and their social/emotional functioning is traceable to technological, cultural, familial, and economic factors, among others. The guardians of childhood, parents and teachers in particular, point the finger of blame at one another, reflecting mutual feelings of powerlessness.There is no doubt that teachers can make a pivotal impact on the non-academic growth of their students, but the parent's role is most critical. Without the appropriate guidance of parents, children are in a far more vulnerable position to contend with the pressures of our advanced world. The involved guidance of parents and teachers can make the difference between a child caving in to a provocative peer's pressure and retrieving the skills to retain self-control and clear thinking when faced with a difficult situation.

Emotional Development Part of Child Development

Coaching offers children an internal safety net of social and emotional skills to help them cope with the circumstances of their lives. Children's lives are filled with compelling encounters that can quickly escalate to trouble. Common encounters include conflict with peers, requests by authority figures, and the presence of tempting stimuli, such as drugs, risky opportunities, or the annoying behavior of others. These moments in time can serve as triggering events, activating a maladaptive reaction in the child, leading to actions and statements with lasting negative consequences. Conversely, these moments may simply pass without much significance if a child possesses the skills for self-management of potential triggers. In this case, there are no external consequences, no shattered self-esteem, and no accompanying threat to others. In fact, proper management of trying circumstances can lead to enhanced self-esteem and peer admiration.

Emotional self-management results from developing a repertoire of skills that children mentally retrieve when circumstances demand. This requires preparation, practice and above all, the coaching of caring and informed adults. One of the first steps is for adults to help individual children identify their own personal triggers that often lead to troubling reactions. It can be helpful to speak with children about typical "triggers to trouble"or give them a list of examples to help them reflect upon their behaviors. Coaches might pick items from the following series when talking to individuals or to groups of children:

HAVE YOUR CHILD CHECK OFF THEIR TRIGGERS TO TROUBLE

___ Finding out that I won't be able to do something I have really been looking forward to

___ Seeing other kids having fun doing something that is against the rules

___ Feeling very annoyed by the behavior of another kid

___ Not wanting to do something I have to do

___ Being unfairly accused of something I didn't do

___ Losing at a game or not performing as well at something as I think I should

___ Feeling jealous about something involving another kid

___ Not being able to accept the mistakes of others

___ Feeling very bossed around by someone else

___ Finding out that someone used something of mine without my permission

___ Feeling pushed aside by a friend

___ Having to switch gears from doing something fun to doing something serious


In addition to these examples, parents can add others to the list or invite children to offer their own personal triggers. It's okay to gently suggest certain items to your child, but be ready to withdraw an offer if your child rejects the idea. The goal is not to get your child to agree with you, but to continue to build upon his/her ability to reflect upon their behavior. Unfortunately, many parents defeat their own purpose during this fragile point in the communication process by imposing judgments of where children go wrong. Parents must also not be too quick to suggest solutions or quick fixes to a child. This sends the message that you don't understand how hard it is for children to change behavior patterns. Impulsive behaviors, such as hasty decisions and rash actions, are caused, in part, by children's lack of experience with rational thinking within emotionally charged situations. Yet, by discussing triggers you are beginning to help them carve out a rational thinking path that can be accessed when the stakes are high.

Helping Your Child Think Rationally

The importance of coaching your child in how to think rationally can not be overestimated. Children's thoughts are tilted in the direction of wishes, memories, current and upcoming events, and other assorted news of the day. Yet, the world is filled with many examples of people's successes and failures when rational thinking is put to the test. Many of these examples can be found in your children's own life or peer group, while others can be referenced within your own childhood experiences. Make use of these real life instances of how thinking skills solve difficult situations or prevent things from getting worse.

One example comes from a mother who spent time preparing her daughter, Josie, for the triggers she would confront during a week of overnight camp. She knew of Josie's tendency to come on too strong with new girls, and suspected that she might be teased for her annoying behavior. Despite her mother's coaching, Josie found herself being teased. But rather than escalating the problem with more inappropriate behavior, she remembered her mother's coaching advice: when you take responsibility for your behavior you demonstrate maturity, or the opposite of what you are being teased for. Josie's step toward maturity took the form of a letter she left for several kids who had made fun of her the night before:

Dear Jenny, Alison, Chris and people who slept in the courtyard:

I heard all the things that you said about me last night, and I'm sorry I act the way I do. I guess your friendship with me wasn't meant to work out. I really wanted to be your friend and I tried. But I kinda got a bit excited. That's why I acted the way I did. I'm sorrry. Your used to be friend, Josie

After Josie left this note for her used-to-be friends, they wrote the following to her:

Dear Josie: We are really sorry about the stuff we said about you. It was wrong. We got carried away. Josie, thank you for telling us and letting us realize what we did wrong. Sorry. You have every reason to be mad at us and we understand. Sorry, Brian, Richard, Kris, David, Allison, Charlene, and Jenny

Josie responded with the following note of hope:

Dear Outdoor People: I accept the apology and thanks for saying what you meant. I really appreciate it! Are we friends again? Your Friend? Josie

The final note answered Josie's question:

Dear Josie: Thanks for taking our apology in. Get some sleep, please. Your Friends, The Outdoor People

This reconciliation would never have taken place if Josie had been unable to use her thinking skills to heal her hurt feelings. The simple, but often missing, gesture of taking responsibility for her error, made all the difference to those children who had mocked her the night before. Without her mother's astute pre-camp coaching advice, Josie would have fallen into the trap of blaming the other for making her feel so bad. Her mother was very aware that one of her daughter's key triggers to trouble were those circumstances where she meets a large number of new kids and wants desperately to feel accepted within their ranks. Fortunately for Josie, the preparation paid off, and she became even more aware of how her style of approaching new social situations needed to be changed.

Josie's management of the circumstances bolstered her social skills and left a lasting feeling of accomplishment. Just as important, it increased her awareness into the ways other children view her behavior. The coaching lesson, don't push kids away by trying too hard to make friends, was reinforced by this real-life example. Her mother helped her link this lesson with other circumstances where things didn't turn out as well. Before Josie faces similar circumstances, such as at the start of school, she can pull out the notes that had been passed back and forth with the outdoor people, and prepare herself to use her improved skills. In time, Josie will be able to remove meeting new people from her triggers to trouble list.

APA Reference
Richfield, S. (2019, August 6). Parenting Skills and Benefits of Coaching Your Child, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/the-parent-coach/parenting-skills-and-benefits-of-coaching-your-child

Last Updated: August 6, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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