How many of us went to the University of Parenting?
How many of us were given a manual when we had our first babies?
Where is that rulebook, the one that tells us what to do, when & how, the one that tells us how to deal with teenagers?
There’s plenty of advice out there, but no definitive answers, not really. I never did I go to that University, never was I given the manual or the rulebook – yet I raised 4 boys to be fine young men. I had a career, a hard-working and successful one too, good money, great benefits and a wonderful business, long hours and working away a lot, yet still I managed to balance being a Mum with that career.
Or did I balance it? Sometimes I have wondered what effect my career has had on my kids?
Then I discovered a relatively new programme called Coaching Skills for Parents and was offered a place on the pilot programme.
This was and is a totally immersive programme aimed at parents & guardians – in fact anyone with responsibility for children (of any age). A programme that doesn’t give any rules (it’s most definitely not super nanny!) – but what it does is provide a safe environment for parents to explore what children really need, and how to meet those needs. The programme gives parents the skills & techniques to take back into the family environment and coach their own children using the same techniques.
Essential needs of children
The programme centres on the 4 essential developmental needs of children – those of love & security, responsibility, new experiences and praise & recognition.
It follows the writings of many influential people, including Nancy Kline (listening skills), Mia Keller Pringle (4 essential needs) and Stephen Covey (habits of highly effective families).
My own experience of Coaching Skills for Parents
There were 8 other delegates, and we quickly built a high trust environment, becoming very close friends (and we’ve stayed in touch) as we shared many personal memories of our own upbringings and experiences of being parents & guardians.
There were many times when the emotion in the room spilled over, when we had some very personal realisations about our own upbringings, how our parents did this for us, how we could improve our own parenting, and for some of us how we wished we had parented differently.
For me personally, there was one powerful technique that was particularly poignant, where we looked at the life of a relationship (I picked mine with my eldest son) – right back to birth and then up to today it looked at my highs and lows in my relationship with him, and really helped me feel the whole relationship not just the most recent event, or the most outstanding ones (or worst ones). This was a visual exercise, using flip-chart & coloured pens – a powerful medium for me to use as the visual nature of it made it more personal and meaningful. It also helped me celebrate the highs, because I could see just how many there had been.
On this programme I learnt a lot about the needs of children, and about my own needs as a parent! There are many techniques shared with us that help us understand our own upbringings and those of the children we are responsible for.
Examples of some techniques covered:
• The Emotional Needs of Children (and Parents!)
• How Children Make Sense of the World
• Praise – the Magic Ingredient
• Labels and seeing things with fresh eyes
• How our own early experiences affect our parenting style
• Position in the Family
• Dealing with Feelings
• The Family Emotional Bank Account
• Family Meetings
• Developing responsibility and critical thinking
I learnt a lot about where I had possibly gone wrong as a parent (although there is no rule book), and certainly where I could be a better parent going forward. I recently became a first-time grandma, and my efforts will now also be focussed on what I can do to help guide my son & his partner as brand-new parents, and the role I play as a grandparent – a vital role model in many children’s lives.
How I use what I learnt for others
As an accredited coach, I am now delivering this same programme to groups of parents & guardians, in many settings & locations, sometimes offering affordable taster sessions to give people a feel of what coaching skills might offer them and their family, then a structured programme through regular sessions for consecutive weeks.
I also deliver a new version of the programme to separating & divorcing parents, helping them to build strong stable relationships with their children in a new home environment.
There are preparations now under way for launching an online interactive version of this programme during Summer 2018, and a franchise opportunity during 2019.
What people say
“The whole course has changed my home and work life completely. My whole attitude has changed for both & will always be improving everyday from now”
“There is more structure in my life. More focused on how I want things to be. A better relationship with my husband. All this stops one from crossing over into another which gives me a happier work life”
“I have learned more about myself & how I can influence my child. The course has helped me take a different perspective on things & this has helped me deal with the relationship strains that occur when you get a new addition to the family. I have learnt a lot that can’t help much at present but is going to be of massive benefit as Olly gets older”
“I’ve become a lot more patient; I take more time with the kids”
“I’ve gained an appreciation of the workings of a child’s mind & how their beliefs are formed. I can take this into all my relationships as it helps me to better understand adults as well as children”
Want to find out more?
Steph Durbin-Wood is an internationally accredited coach, a member of the International Coaching Federation, providing personal, executive & business coaching, consulting, and now parent & family coaching through the Coaching Skills for Parents programme.