A Coaching Power Tool Created by Caroline Wu Beloe
(Parenting Coach, Life Coach, CHINA)
It is never too late to play, for we are all Magical Children. – Joseph Chilton Pearce (Author of Magical Child).
Tom is a 9 years old boy. Tom loved sports. At the beginning of the school year, he chose to train for football three times a week and to train for swimming twice a week both in weekdays and in the weekend. He was confident he could manage his homework after attending all the training. Recently, Tom often forgot to finish homework. One morning, he refused to go to school because he did not finish the homework and he felt ashamed of it. Anna, Tom’s mum thought Tom needed some help with time management. Anna helped Tom with making a weekly timetable and the bottom line is Tom finish all the homework before he could have free playtime. The timetable did work for the first week. But in the second week, Benjamin start asking to play first instead of doing homework. Anna reminded him their agreement from time to time. Tom will still finish homework, but often accompanied it with moan and whine.
The situation got worse when one Sunday afternoon, Tom decided to play football at the homework time. When Anna insists on sticking to the schedule, Tom threw a big tantrum. At the end, Tom did finish his homework but no playtime left. In the following weeks, Tom often spent more time on moaning and tantrum than the time he actually spent on doing homework. These struggles happened a couple of times a week. It made Anna exhausted and very anxious. She becomes very tense before Tom come home everyday.
What is Control?
According to Webster’s dictionary, control is: to exercise restraining or governing influence over. Wikipedia define control (in management) as: setting standards, measuring actual performance and taking corrective action.
Sometimes parents thought that as adults they always need to be in control and should never let the children see that we have lost our authority.
In Anna’s case, the homework situation went out of control; Anna thought the best solution is to make a timetable for Tom. Unexpectedly, control limits she set became a hidden problem and it develops in to a dilemma of frequent tantrum from Tom. The time schedule did helped Anna to constrain her son’s play time. However, Anna gradually lost control of the time, and Tom lost his temper.
Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson in their book The Whole Brain Child explained that:
Children need structure and boundaries and to be held accountable for their behavior, but even as you maintain your authority, don’t forget to have fun with your kids. The more they enjoy the time they spend with parents and the rest of the family, the more they will value relationships and desire more positive and healthy relational experiences in the future.
There are many parents spending most of their time either disciplining kids or carting them from on activity to the next, and not enough time just enjoying being with them.
When control did not work…
Anna really empathized with Tom, and start doubting about the effectiveness of the timetable. One day, right after Tom came home from school, Anna asked him if he wanted to play football for a while. Tom gave Anna a very happy grin that she hadn’t seen for months. Anna then asked Tom if he could finish homework for that day. Tom said‘Yes, mum. You can trust me”. Tom played football with Anne for half an hour and only with Anne. After dinner, Tom quickly finished homework with no complaint at all. Since then they always play football for half an hour on Monday. Tom never had tantrum over homework again and Anna was amazed by his spontaneous change.
Some times miracles can happen when adults letting go of ideas of how things should be, embracing the present moment and trusting that the truth of the moment is okay as it is. When this true embrace and acceptance occurs, something changes in the children.
What is Connect?
The first meaning of connect, according to Webster’s dictionary, is
To join, or fasten together, as by something intervening; to associate; to combine; to unite or link together; to establish a bond or relation between.
Not like adults, Children do not always have the language to tell us what they need and what hurts. They act out with their behavior in attempt to get those need communicated to us. If we see behavior as a form of communication to us, then we can respond to the need be communicated, instead of react to the behavior. Anna finally saw Tom’s tantrum as a signal of his need. Only 30 minutes football playing time per week completely transformed Tom. The transformation happened because Anna trusted Tom could manage the homework and because she connected to Tom’s present need as well. Anna answered the calling of a child’s nature.
This planet is the child’s playground and nothing should interfere with child’s play. Raised this way, the magical child is a happy genius, capable of anything, quipped to fulfill his amazing potential. –Joseph Chilton Pearce
Coaching application in general:
Coaching is about connecting with people, inspiring them to do their best, and helping them to grow. (Ed Batista Feb 18, 2015). This connection is based on a trusting relationship with your client. A client might feel inspired to seek this type of relationship with others in their life. This environment of trust is the key for client to be successful in their life, in their business and in their relationship.
In order to shift client’s perspective from control to connect, coaches need to support them to find out the ultimate purpose of the control limit they set for themself, for their team, their partner, their child, etc. It is also a chance to support our clients identify where control is closing them off from the present moment and where they need to connect. Feeling and expressing empathy is critical to help client to remove their suffering, their doubt and even their embarrassment and then begin thinking creatively about alternative solutions.
Coaching application in parenting:
Thich Nhat Hanh said
You cannot transmit wisdom and insight to another person. The seed is already there. A good teacher touches the seed, allowing it to wake up, to sprout, and to grow.
Good coach and good parent do the same job. In parenting, it is one of the parent’s key roles to connect with children to inspire them to do their best, and to help them search inside and discover their own answers. Pam Leo, advocator of Connection Parenting said:
The level of cooperation parents get from their children is usually equal to the level of connection children feel with their parents.
Parenting takes enormous effort. But most of the time, the emotional rewards make it feel well worth it. And connection-oriented parents get something huge out of it, something other parents can’t count on.
A good parent-child relationship makes it easier for parents to influence their children, so children are more cooperative and discipline isn’t a challenge. (Dr. Laura @Aha Parening.com)
We feel connected when we feel listened to and loved. We feel disconnected when we feel hurt and unheard. Whenever our client question how to respond to a child they can ask themselves, will this response create a connection or a disconnection.
Reconnection in Parenting:
Sometimes a child’s behavior will push our buttons and we react rather than respond. Pam Leo suggested that: As soon as we realize we have created a disconnect, we can reconnect by doing the following:
Rewind – Acknowledge we have said or done something hurtful
Repair – Apologize and ask for forgiveness
Replay – Respond with love and listening
Questions support parents shifting from ‘control’ to ‘connect’:
What is this rules/ discipline important for you?
What is the worst thing will happen if you could not control/discipline your child’s
behavior related to this issue?
What is your role in supporting kids facing a challenging situation?
What are the actions/activities that might help you to connect with your children?
Know your children:
Has your child ever demonstrate spontaneous change?
What are the activities does your child show initiative most in?
What kind of fulfillment does your kids get from these activity?
What characters/quality can you trust about your child that will support him/her to handle this specific challenge?
What are the key conditions for your kids to be concentrated and calm?
Find the support:
What are some techniques that you can develop to remain connected (with your children in challenging situations?
What are the structures that in place to fulfill your commitment to connect with your children?
1. Thick Nhat Hanh, Planting Seeds, Parallax Press, California
2. Dr. Laura Markham, What is connection parenting, by founder of AhaParenting.com and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life
3. Joseph Chilton Pearce, The Magical Child, Plume
4. Ed Batista?How Great Coaches Ask, Listen, and Empathize?FEB 18, 2015 http://www.edbatista.com/2015/02/new-post-at-hbr-how-great-coaches-ask-listen-and-empathize.html
5. Daniel J. Siegel, and Tina Payne Bryson, The Whole-Brain Child, Bantam Books
6. Pam Leo Connection parenting http://www.connectionparenting.com