After talking to my son on our way back from school, I realized I had been coaching him for years. Finally, it dawned on me that I was listening to him as a coach does and asked questions that moved him forward. I helped him reframe his experience, empowered him, and celebrated his success.
I listen better
In coaching, Active listening is a way to be there for the other person. We listen to every word, not interrupting, not jumping to conclusions, observing the posture, gestures, and facial expressions ___TAKING IT ALL IN!
As a parent, it implies putting my phone away and being physically and mentally there for my children. Active listening also means not thinking about what I will answer before they finish talking (I know, been there…). It gives my children the space they need and shows them that I value their conversations, see them, and care for them.
I ask engaging questions
In coaching, we call them Powerful questions. As Tony Stoltzfus described, “they can jump-start creativity, change our perspective, empower us to believe in ourselves, push us to think things through, or call us to action”
As a parent, I try to ask open-ended questions using How or What. I avoid the devaluating and judgmental Why such as Why did you mess up this quiz/game? Which will end the conversation and make my child feel terrible.
Instead, I ask:
- What do you think happened?
- How did it make you feel?
- What can you do now?
- What would help you?
- How do you plan to do it?
I help reframe their thoughts and experiences
Reframing can change our body’s stress response triggered by our perception of stress. It activates the prefrontal cortex, associated with our executive functions. Executive functions are complex cognitive processes that include working memory, planning, cognitive flexibility, decision-making, problem-solving, and self-control. When reframing, children feel less stressed, remember better, solve problems, make decisions, and learn to control their reactions.
The Mindfulness S.T.O.P. Practice to help take a step back
- T__Take a breath
- O__Observe what comes up
- P__Proceed with intentionality
This tool helps pause and see things from a different perspective. It’s an excellent time to reflect and ask questions challenging their thoughts:
- What facts support this?
- How have you handled this before?
- Will it matter in a month? How so?
- Are your thoughts helping you right now?
- How could you see this differently?
- What can you accept or not from this person/situation?
- What advice would you give a friend?
I empower them
Coaching taught me to let my children experience their lives. It doesn’t mean I don’t have clear boundaries with what they can and cannot do. It just shows them that I trust them. I create psychological safety at home. My children are allowed to take risks, try new things, and make mistakes. They know that failure is OK and that it’s a part of learning.
They try, they fall, and try again until they succeed or try something else. I want my children to try many things and figure out what they are excited about. I welcome and even encourage new ideas and change. This mindset promotes learning, perseverance, and resilience.
I Celebrate every success
Coaching taught me to celebrate every step of their journey. It’s about celebrating the perseverance, patience, or other skill that got them there. This validation builds confidence.
How do you celebrate the journey?
–Did you notice how it was much easier for you to…? You have learned so much! Do you remember what you did to get where you are now? You can be proud of your achievements! You showed___and___, excellent skills!
–I saw you doing … that you learned last year, and now you can… What differences do you notice this year? How do you feel about it? What have you learned about yourself?
Celebrating successes is reflecting on the journey to get there.
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