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5 Ways Parent Coaching Can Help You and Your Child

We like to be prepared for anything new in life. Whether we’re moving, changing jobs, or sitting behind the wheel for the first time ever, we like to research and get to know as much as we can about the situation we’re dealing with. But a lot of people tend to neglect the one area where we should try our hardest to be as prepared as possible: Parenting.

A lot of new parents, or parents-to-be, tend to look down on any sort of parent training or coaching. “Our parents had zero preparation and training when they were raising us, and we turned out well! So why should I be wasting my time and money on this?”

Now, no one is saying that our parents did everything 100% wrong – they all did the best they could for us: they loved us, protected us, and helped us become who we are today. Consider this for a moment: people who lived prior to 1879 had no electricity. It didn’t stop them from living normal, peaceful lives – but having electricity did make those lives substantially better and easier.

We think that parenting is a lot like electricity in that way. We can be very good parents without any sort of coaching, but preparing ourselves and learning as much as we can about the psychology of parenting will definitely help us be even better.

Here are five research-driven ways that parent coaching can be beneficial for your family.

Addressing Emotional Challenges

People are complex creatures. You can watch your child grow and know them better than anyone else, but you still can’t see inside their heads. Sometimes they might feel anxious about something, but feel ashamed of their anxiety, and that will stop them from telling you that something is wrong.

There’s no shame in not being an omnipotent being and having trouble connecting with your child, especially when they’re teenagers. After all, no one ever taught us how to deal with those situations; we’re just expected to know them naturally, intuitively. But being a human parent is very different from being a parent in the animal kingdom. We have a lot fewer instincts and a lot more thoughts and feelings.

The good news is that attending training programs or coaching together with your child can give you incredible results when it comes to your child’s negative emotions. Compared to just your child receiving coaching, the benefits are much greater. [3] Here’s why: when your child is learning how to combat their feelings of anxiety, shame, or negativity, they’re fighting them on their own. But when you’re both learning how to deal with them, a) you’ll always be able to not just be there for them, but help them in a knowledgeable way, and b) you’ll model the right kind of behavior to them in situations when you yourself are feeling upset.

By watching you understand and overcome your own negative feelings, and by becoming comfortable enough to speak about their own, you’ll start working on emotional issues together and develop a much closer relationship.

Improving Your Child’s Academic Performance

Now this one probably sounds the least believable of all, right? Your child is the one who should be studying, practicing, or even attending some tutoring lessons – but what have you got to do with it?

Everything.

We often hear that someone is a certain way because of their environment.  “Oh, he got into some bad company, he changed completely!” Or we hear how somebody is so lucky for having such great role models in their life. Then why would it be hard to believe that by providing a certain type of atmosphere at home you can help your child become a better student?

This is the part where a lot of parents might get defensive. “Are you saying that my child is living in a toxic atmosphere?” Again, none of this should mean that you’re doing anything wrong! But psychology is progressing every day, and we’re learning things about ourselves and our children we didn’t know before. Thanks to all the new research and discoveries, we can help you not to become a “good parent” – if you love your child and care for them, you are one already – but to become as good a parent as you can possibly be.

Children need you to be involved in their school lives, but not too involved. [2] You should meet their teachers, be involved in school events, ask them about their grades and whether they need help with a certain subject. But smothering them will be counterproductive. Checking their grades every week without giving them a chance to tell you about that C themselves, will break down the trust between you. A general rule of thumb is: if you are open and accepting with them, they’ll tell you if they need help.

All of this sounds great on paper, but in reality, it’s hard to draw a line: how much involvement is too much? This is where coaching can help you help your child. Being a parent doesn’t come with a manual, and there’s no shame in asking a professional how you can help your child develop academically.

Less Stress

Research has shown that after receiving training, parents of children with ADHD felt less stress. They found it much easier to remain calm rather than over-reacting. [1] You have probably noticed that when you’re stressed, you tend to react more harshly to your child’s misbehavior than you normally would.

By learning how to recognize your feelings of frustration, you can learn to calm yourself and react in a more productive way. This will help decrease your child’s undesirable behavior, and you’ll feel better as well. You can learn to accept your child without judgment, to listen to them more carefully, and above all, to feel compassion not only for them, but for yourself, as well. Instead of feeling like a bad parent every time you overreact, you can start understanding that while your reactions are normal, they’re not the only thing you can do, nor the only way you can react.

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Decreasing Hyperactivity

In certain respects, parent coaching serves to break the vicious cycle of hyperactivity. If you’ve ever seen your child act that way and couldn’t stop yourself from yelling at them, punishing them, or telling them things you didn’t really mean, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It simply means you fell into this vicious cycle: a child does something they cannot control to which their parents respond with their own behavior they cannot control, which, in turn, may worsen the child’s initial behavior. [4] They may start feeling misunderstood, anxious, ashamed, and lacking self-esteem.

The good thing is, coaching can help you as a parent learn how to react to their hyperactivity in a calmer, more constructive way, which will help calm them down as well. But that’s not all! You can also learn how to practice autonomy, self-esteem, stress management, and a lot of other very important things with your child. [4] Coaching offers you a way to not only educate yourself, but also to be able to work on your own and your child’s emotions to create a more positive and accepting family dynamic.

Becoming More Mindful

Mindfulness. That word seems to be everywhere these days, doesn’t it? It’s not for nothing, though: mindfulness is a powerful tool for both individuals and their relationships.

Simply put, being mindful means being present in the moment, without judging that moment as good or bad; you’re simply accepting things as they come, without overreacting. That doesn’t mean that from now on you should be emotionless about anything that happens – not at all! But taking a moment to hear another person without judgment, to accept yourself with all your thoughts and feelings and to accept others, is a huge step toward solving a problem in a calmer, more positive way. [5] This is easier said than done, but a Coach can help you learn and practice this skill.

Mindful parenting is becoming more and more popular, and research shows that after attending mindfulness programs, mothers report feeling better about their parenting in general. This was especially true for mothers of children with ASD, and much like ADHD, it also helped decrease the child’s symptoms of aggression and self-harm. [5] Mindfulness helps parents distance themselves from the child’s negative behavior by seeing it as something that comes and goes and is in no way their fault. Parents are also taught to start noticing their own feelings from moment to moment, without judging them. They are encouraged to notice comfortable and uncomfortable feelings related to parenting and to take a moment to accept them before working on them. [5]

It all sounds nice and dandy, but learning to do this takes a lot of practice, and coaching is a great way to start yourself on that journey. A Coach will be a non-judgmental listener who will, in turn, model the non-judgmental listening to parents. We can all agree that solving a problem from a position of acceptance, rather than one of anxiety, anger, and sadness will give us much better results, right?

At Nobel Coaching & Tutoring, we encourage parents to attend individual coaching sessions while their children are attending theirs. That way, parents can work on their own feelings and behaviors in order to model the best behavior possible to their children. If your child is having issues focusing on their homework, or if they are simply stressed out about the upcoming SAT’s, the best person to help them overcome it and learn to create a positive atmosphere is you – and we are here to help you learn how.

References:

  1. Garreta, E., Jimeno, T., & Servera, M. (2018). Analysis of the effectiveness of a training program for parents of children with ADHD in a hospital environment. Actas Españolas de Psiquiatria, Vol.46, 1, pp. 21-28
  2. https://www.whitbyschool.org/passionforlearning/6-compelling-reasons-to-take-parenting-classes
  3. https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/InterventionReports/wwc_incredibleyears_111511.pdf
  4. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/adhd/parent-training-children-adhd
  5. Duncan, L., Coatsworth, J., & Greenberg, M. (2009). A Model of Mindful Parenting: Implications for Parent–Child Relationships and Prevention Research. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 255-270

 

Why is Effective Communication so Important?

Being able to communicate our thoughts, opinions, and wishes has always been important for our survival. Just imagine our cave-dwelling great-grand-ancestors not being able to precisely convey that they really, really do not want to join in on that hunt because their leg is hurting. Next thing they know, they’re running away from a tiger – and not very successfully!

Although most of us don’t need to run from tigers anymore, the skill of clear communication is more important than ever. Thanks to our new technologies, we can now communicate with virtually any person from any place on Earth, and many people do just this on a regular basis, especially if they work for a large corporation [3].  Indeed,  for some people communication itself is the main goal – successful talk-show hosts and writers have mastered this skill to such a degree that simply communicating has become their primary job [3].

Knowing how to present ourselves in a good light and understand the other party well enough to persuade them to help us achieve something is an incredibly important skill to develop. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of effective communication and offer some ideas on how to hone that skill.

Professional Benefits

Since we’ve already mentioned the importance of communicating in the workplace, let’s tackle the professional aspect of this skill first. Some of the benefits of clear communication in the workplace are:

  1. Fewer mistakes.
  2. Better workplace atmosphere.
  3. Good persuasion skills.

Making Fewer Mistakes

Have you ever been in a situation where your boss or your professor is explaining to you how to do something, but you just can’t seem to understand them? So maybe after asking them to explain it one more time and still not understanding it, you tell yourself, “It’s fine, I’ll do it by myself”, and you end up making a mistake. Or maybe you were too shy to even ask them to explain it to you in the first place!

Either way, the primary cause for your mistake would be the fact that both parties failed to communicate effectively. To begin with, your boss/professor didn’t communicate their expectations in a way you could understand. They are probably speaking from the perspective of somebody who has been doing that task for quite some time, so it’s easy for them to forget the mistakes they were making in the beginning or the challenges they faced then.  Now that they’re more knowledgeable, they simply assume it must be as easy for you to do as it is for them. In other words, they are communicating from their perspective only, without taking your perspective and your context into consideration [2].

Secondly, your fear of communicating your lack of understanding is what might cause you to make a mistake. Not asking for an explanation is something that usually happens when you assume that the person you’re talking to will be annoyed and bored by your questions. But instead, you could have asked them a clarifying question. For example, saying: “Okay, so let me just see if I understood you correctly so I am 100% sure I’ll do it properly” and then repeating the task the way you understood it saves you from asking a million tiny questions. Instead, you just ask one, and if your boss sees a fault in what you said, they’ll let you know.

So in both cases, assumptions of how much someone knows and how they feel about certain things can lead to mistakes. And though it’s sometimes hard to get over that voice in your head that says, “Stop bothering them or they’ll think you’re stupid and unable to do this!”, it’s something we all must work on if we are to be effective communicators and avoid mistakes.

Better Workplace Atmosphere

Imagine your next hypothetical situation. Your colleague or classmate is celebrating their birthday this Friday and they bring muffins for everyone – but you. What’s up with that?! You might naturally think that they don’t like you and don’t want to hang out with you without really checking that hypothesis with them. So the next time they need help from you, you might turn away and ignore them, causing them to not finish their assignment and to feel really bad.

But what if the reason you didn’t get a muffin was because the muffins their mom made for them were all made with peanuts, and they only remembered about your allergies after they started sharing them around? They had been trying to protect you this entire time, and here you were thinking that they hated you!

In that scenario, both of you were lacking proper communication skills. On one hand, they should have apologized to you for forgetting all about your allergies, while you should have asked them if there was something wrong in your relationship the moment you noticed something wasn’t adding up.

If we are looking at this from their perspective, they should have said something like: “I’m very sorry that I don’t have a muffin for you, I completely forgot about your allergies. How about we go grab a coffee later so I can properly apologize?” You could also have helped solve this situation by simply asking them: “Hey, I noticed everyone got a muffin but me, and I’m feeling really left out. Could you tell me why I didn’t get one?” Any of these two explanations would have prevented a further misunderstanding.

Just imagine if a pilot and air traffic control were communicating in such an inefficient and petty way – it wouldn’t be fun, would it [2]?

Good Persuasion Skills

Now now, I’m not trying to teach you how to manipulate the people around you in order to always have things your way. By “persuasion”, I primarily mean marketing skills – and, well, if they also teach you how to convince your friend to help you with your math, that’s not so bad now, is it?

What do you think all great companies have in common? Sure, the most important thing is that they all have something that a lot of people want and can use. But that in itself isn’t enough. If they didn’t have a good, persuasive marketing team, no one would even have heard of them. In this day and age, when new apps, technologies, and inventions are being created every day, having the ability to communicate about your product in an innovative way is what will separate you and your company from the rest of the pack.

And not only that, but in order to sell yourself (not in an illegal way, more like – sell your worth to a university you want to go to or sell your abilities and character to your potential employer) you need to know how to communicate about your strengths and weaknesses in the right way.

Personal Benefits

After reading the first part of the article, you’re probably already aware of the main benefit good communication can give you in your personal life – better and more honest relationships. There are thousands of articles online about the relationships between parents and teenagers and what both sides can do to make them better. But what if I told you that just by changing the way you communicate with each other, you can fix 90% of that relationship?

Instead of snooping around their teenager’s room, parents should be more open and honest about their fears and feelings. Simply saying things like, “I feel sad that you don’t spend as much time at home” or “I’ve been noticing some changes in your behavior and I’m very worried that something may be bothering you” is a hundred times better for a relationship than looking for some sort of proof for your hypothesis. If parents raise their children this way, if they’re not ashamed to tell them they are sad or hurt by something, then they’ll be good role models for their children to do the same once they start having problems.

Tips on Being a Better Communicator

Communication is far more than just what you say, it’s also how you act. Non-verbal signals such as facial expressions or body movements can at times tell us more about what someone really feels than any words they might be saying [2]. If your parents are nagging you about that C you received and you keep saying how you feel sorry about it, all the while rolling your eyes with your arms crossed, they probably won’t be inclined to believe you.

What you communicate with your words and your body language needs to be in sync in order for your message to get through. And not only that, you need to take into consideration your previous communication with someone [1].  For example, if you’re prone to sarcasm, no matter how seriously you are now speaking to them, they might be nodding their heads suspiciously. Instead of simply saying what you want to say and getting angry when they don’t believe you, it’s a good idea to remember your previous interactions and maybe predict their reaction. This is especially important if something big is at stake – say, you want to ask your professor for extra credit, but they don’t really think much of you after you’ve been late for 70% of their classes. Taking their perspective and feelings into consideration is a great first step to start communicating better [2].

You could start by saying, “Look, I know I’m always being sarcastic, but I really need your help with this now”, or “Professor, I’m sorry for always being late. It was really irresponsible of me, but in order to get into the university I really want, I’ll  need some extra credit from your class. Is there anything I can do to make that happen?”

Communication is an amazing ability. We can communicate through words, hands, drawings, even eyes. And yet, we so often tend to repeat the same behavior. If a wife is angry with her husband, she’ll keep yelling at him and he’ll keep withdrawing. Even though they can both see it’s not getting them anywhere, it’s easier to fall into their usual pattern of communication rather than to try and change it.

But if we dare change that script, it will make our lives not only easier, but more beautiful and fulfilled as well. So start today! If you’ve had a fight with someone recently, or if you keep having fights about the same thing, think about which part of your communication is falling short. Take their point of view into consideration and try to alter your communication style. After all, there are infinite ways of doing that.

References:

  1. Bowdish, R. (2018). The Importance of Communication. Master of Arts in English Plan II Graduate Projects.
  2. Burgoon, J.K., Berger, C.R., & Waldron, V.R. (2000). Mindfulness and Interpersonal Communication. Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 56, No.1, pp. 105-127.
  3. Morreale, S.P., & Pearson, J.C. (2008). Why Communication Education is Important: The Centrality of the Discipline in the 21st Century. Communication Education Vol. 57, No. 2, pp. 224-240

Good Parenting without Overmonitoring – Yes, It’s Possible!

Have you ever been tempted to read your teen’s diary or check their Facebook messages? Have you ever made a social media profile so you could spy on their online activities? Do you make very strict rules for your teen without allowing them to question them and invite you to a debate?

If the answer to some or all of these is YES – then this is just the article for you, because we’ll explain how you can navigate the continuum of monitoring your teen in a healthy way that maintains communication, trust, and your overall relationship.

We Know You Are Worried!

You hear of all these terrible things on the news, or even in your own neighborhood – underage drinking, drugs, accidents… So it’s perfectly normal to be worried that, with the right combination of circumstances, your teen might become susceptible to some of these high-risk behaviors. With that in mind, knowing where your child is and who their friends are – that is to say, a little bit of monitoring – is not a bad thing. [1] The thing that damages parent-teen relationships is extreme monitoring. [3] It’s when parents, in an attempt to calm themselves down and protect their child, resort to what teens would call “extreme measures” or strict parenting: being home by a certain time and not one minute later, always volunteering to chaperone or attend their social events so you can see who they are with and what they’re doing, asking (or trying) to see their instant messages so you can be certain there is no mention of unwanted activities in there.

So after you’ve done this, you feel calmer and believe you now know everything there is to know about your teen. Meanwhile, a young person with the need for psychological and physical autonomy is ignoring you, answering all your questions with one-syllable words, and spending more and more time outside the house, or in their own room. You will have inevitably hurt your relationship with your child in an attempt to keep them safe.

But what if we told you that over-monitoring is exactly what might cause them to engage in some of those unwanted things you were trying to prevent? Moreover, what if we showed you that creating a warm but firm relationship that still allows them some freedom will lead to them being much more open to you and you knowing much more about them and the way they spend their time?

Why Extreme Monitoring Does not Work

Just because you have established some hard rules and checked their messages does not necessarily mean you now have full control over their comings and goings. Much of the conflict between parents and teens could be avoided with some honest talk. In fact, much of the rebelling and rule-breaking happens as a response of teens who feel like they have no control over their own lives. [2] So in an attempt to both gain some control and get back at their parents, they may intentionally act in the very way you were trying to prevent.

For example, you have a rule that you always drop them off when they go to a friend’s house, so you know who they’ll be with and where. But as soon as your car turns the corner, they might leave with that friend, meet with some different people and go to a different place. And whether you come to know about it or not, they’ll be happy. If you don’t find out, that means they’re getting away with it. If you do, they’ll feel like they’re getting back at you for the lack of autonomy.

Similarly, if you ask to read their texts, they might find their way around that as well. They could buy another phone you don’t know about, or have a profile on some social network hidden from you. What we want to say is this: prying and asking to have complete control over someone, even if they are your child and still live under your roof will only succeed in making you feel better temporarily. In the long run, it might lead to the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish, and it will definitely affect your relationship with them. Your alleged selfless act of overprotecting through extreme monitoring is actually quite self-regarding in that it only relieves your worry in the short-term while increasing the odds of your teen feeling resentment towards you.

Full Disclosure is the Only True Knowledge

Research shows that when parents know about their child’s real whereabouts, it comes from the child themselves, and their decision to be honest, rather than through extreme monitoring. [3] In order to create a positive atmosphere that will allow them to open themselves to you, no matter how scared or embarrassed they feel, you might want to give authoritative parenting a chance. [2] A parent who nurtures this style is warm but firm, and they give their child the freedom to choose their own beliefs and make their own choices. A lot of research has shown that this way of parenting leads to the healthiest, happiest, and academically most successful children. [2]

So how would an authoritative parent handle potential conflicts?

For one, they would still be interested in their child’s life, but in a warm, healthy way. They wouldn’t ask questions like “How many people will there be? What will you be doing?” or mandate a curfew time. Instead, they would simply ask – “So what is this party about?”, and allow their child to tell them everything they want to disclose. If they want to warn them, they won’t do it through harsh words and placing blame, automatically not trusting their teen to make a wise choice. Instead, they would say “I hope you understand that I’m a little bit worried that there will be alcohol there, but I will trust you not to drink.” This way, the child won’t feel threatened. They’ll just feel guilty at the thought of disappointing you, and that has proven to be a much better prevention technique.

However, an authoritative parent still needs to set some rules – but they’ll do so with the help of the child. If you’re deciding on a curfew and believe 11 pm is late enough, consult with your teen and listen to their opinions. If they tell you that everyone else can return by midnight, that they’ll have friends to accompany them on their way home instead of going alone, and that they’ll be responsible, maybe think about giving them the benefit of the doubt – especially if they’ve never given you a reason to doubt them before. Making parenting decisions based on trust will help them make choices to keep that trust.

If the trust is weakened through a broken rule, the consequences need to be just as clear and reasonable for the type of rule that was broken.

Tell them, for example, that they can be home by midnight, but if they are even a minute late, they won’t be getting that late a curfew any time soon. As much as an authoritative parent wants to give their child freedom, they still need a firm set of rules that they decide on together with their child. Setting rules is a positive thing, and it leads to much better decisions than monitoring and blocking someone’s psychological development. It will also teach them responsibility and independence much better than you going everywhere with them and checking their every move.

Some Final Words of Wisdom

Imagine a line with “no monitoring” on one side and “extreme monitoring” on the other side. People are most comfortable in their working environments and in relationships in the middle of that line. At work, you probably don’t like being micromanaged and having to account for each and every move you make, but you thrive when your work is being noticed and your superiors care about the circumstances of your work and the outcomes of your efforts. Teens are similar – they want their parents to care about them and have clear expectations and limits, but are also seeking autonomy in order to build their identities. Parents may feel a sense of security through extreme monitoring; however, it may cause more damage than the effort intends.

You’ve heard that adolescence is often accompanied by a great deal of conflict, but the thing is, it only happens if parents’ and teens’ views on autonomy are completely different. Everyone wants to feel like they have control over their own life, while parents find it hard to watch their child separate themselves and spend less and less time with their family. The best way to get through this is to start treating them more like an adult and less like a child, as long as they keep proving they can be responsible for themselves. This kind of atmosphere will allow them to tell you everything, as they won’t fear your judgment. The possibility to negotiate future rules and consequences that impact their choices, all while building their understanding that you want to keep them both happy and safe, will lead to them being much happier and more open. You’ll have peace of mind and your teen will have the comfort of a healthy, trusting, and supportive relationship with their parents.

References:

  1. Dishon, T. (1998). Parental Monitoring and the Prevention of Child and Adolescent Problem Behavior: A Conceptual and Empirical Formulation. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, Vol.1, No. 1, pp. 61-73.
  2. Steinberg, L. (2001). Parental Monitoring and the Prevention of Child and Adolescent Problem Behavior: A Conceptual and Empirical Formulation. Journal of Research on Adolescence, Vol.11, No.1, pp. 1-19.
  3. Stattin, H. (2000). What Parents Know, How They Know It, and Several Forms of Adolescent Adjustment: Further Support for a Reinterpretation of Monitoring. Developmental Psychology, Vol.36, No. 3, pp. 366-380.

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