It is without a doubt that one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs in the world is being a parent. Parents know their families best. They know how to impact the child in a positive way. But can parents also coach their children? This week Nadezhda Mihaylova joined us at Coaching Matters and helped us combine the two most nurturing roles to discover approaches to assist your child to develop into a confident, possibility-oriented, and loving adult.
Here is the transcripted version that followed.
Table of Contents
Based on my personal experience. Yes absolutely. Why not? My oldest one was seven and my youngest one was not born when I started coaching. Guess who was my first guinea pig. I remember out of enthusiasm, practicing those of you who have graduated the art and science of coaching in module three, we are teaching an amazing value exploration exercise called the outcome frame. Guess who was the first one? I tested it.
It was my seven-year-old son who not only was sharing with me what is important to him in a given situation but he was only co-created the coaching process by taking a couple of papers and a few pencils and starting drawing each of his answers. So at the end of our conversation, we had the rainbow that started with a little bit of grayish and dark colors and ended up with a really bright rainbow.
ICF is a little bit silent on the topic. So the closest I got to, can I coach someone in my circle was ethical standard number 26. It says that I do not participate in any sexual or romantic engagements with clients and sponsors. I will be ever mindful of the level of intimacy appropriate for the relationship. This is copy-pasted from the ICF, coaching federation website from the code of ethics, ethical standard number 26, and also, does that mean I cannot coach my spouse partner a significant other?
As coaching your spouse, partner, or significant other may offer opportunities for conflict of interest, as well as confidentiality problems. It is not recommended to do so unless you are absolutely sure that the past memories, things you know about your spouse, partner, or significant other will not interfere with your coaching performance in your professional coaching.
So they say nothing about children. But they’re very explicit to say, are you absolutely assured that the past memories, the things you know about that person will not interfere with your coaching presence. So this being said, I have an agenda.
Of course, I have an agenda as a parent. I care for them which makes coaching them quite challenging. And at the same time, those of you who are present in this presentation know that I always test things out and I love to improvise. So I have coached pure coaching following all the coaching rules.
With coach presence, with coach contract, with creating coaching experience, all three of my children, one topic was my eldest. One has collected money to buy a new violin for himself. And he had boiled down his choices to two options and, he came and asked me, mom, can you coach me?
I need to make a decision. My second son was preparing for his football season and wanted to get focused on what kind of physical and psychological skills he needs to focus on in order to stay in the league that he was already in. So we created skills and psychological traits. We’ve measured. And he decided where to focus on and how to practice.
And my elder daughter had an issue with a friend at school and she didn’t know what to do. She was totally at a loss and was very upset about it. So I really took off my parenting concern. I pushed it down my pockets. I grabbed my heart. I shut my mouth with all the concerns and things that I could have said to her.
And I started asking all kinds of questions. And 20 minutes into the conversation, she hugged me. She said, “Thank you, mom. I’m good.” And, I was really proud of the decision that she took that day. In all three occasions, I was not a direct stakeholder. So I believe all of us will agree that questions such as when we do write your homework or, how really prepare for the test are basically not a good, good way to practice good occasion to practice our coaching skills because especially if they have not requested that from us.
So, absolutely. Yes. Why not? If you have their permission and if you’re very clear that it’s for your practice, no way, when you have an agenda, then the only thing you could apply is a coach approach, but the agenda will be there and sooner or later it’ll show. So don’t pretend you are an independent, unbiased, non-judgemental coach on such occasions. We could easily switch to coaching topics and use the coaching tools that we have when they don’t ask money from us, or we don’t ask anything from them, let’s put it like that.
To talk about the coaching approach. What can a parent borrow from a coach? It’s quite easy, the positive attitudes, the listening skills, the building the trust, the relationship, the skill of asking meaningful questions, the solution-focused instead of problem-focused mindset and the way to build and maintain that trust long term with tonality, with presence, of course, through powerful storytelling, but not telling them the conclusion of the story, but asking them to complete the story, to tell their announced story, to draw their own vision, to create their own future, and to be aware, to learn from that. That’s what any parent can borrow from a professional coach.
The four conditions that create balance and happiness in each and every relationship including parenting and parent and child and this is borrowed from the longest survey done by the Harvard University, where they’ve asked people consistently over more than 60 years, what makes them happy? What makes them healthy? What contributes to their longevity?
People responded consistently all through those years, relationships and experiencing all those four aspects, of being alive daily in each of those relationships. So what did those four aspects stand for? Creativity, learning together and having dreams about the common future that’s creative. Physical wellbeing, meaning, experiencing the human touch, being together at least 20 minutes a day, emotional relationships, shining moments together, the smile, the early morning hugging and kiss, the late afternoon, having a good night, all the family traditions and rituals, which are so important because they bring a sense of control for each and every child, sense of predictability, sense of emotional stability and last but not least the sense of meaning the sense of when “we”, instead of “I”. Contribution to a community, to a cause, and being part of spiritual practice, are the four aspects. That brings balance and happiness.
But notice, how would you rate your experience with your child in each of those four aspects? How satisfied are you with the creative time you spent together reading together, watching educational movies together, learning together, doing homework together, having drinks together? How satisfied are you with your physical experience? How satisfied are you with the shiny moment each and every day?
Ask him or her, ask for permission. Just the way we do it with any other coaching clients asks for permission. That’s it. That’s the only way for coaching not to fail. As simple as that.
Talking about one thing is to coach, coach-coach, like sit down, devote 30 minutes to an hour, agree on the specific topic, but nailed the contract. Explore, agree on action, steps, and accountability, and stop the conversation there. That’s one thing it’s possible. And it’s specifically possible for those of us who are professional coaches. Now our children know that we are professional coaches and come to us, knock on our door and say, “Hey mom, Hey dad, I need you as my coach.” Now take-offs. Of course, again, I’m telling you if it’s not about things that they’re going to ask from us does be making us stakeholders. And if it’s not about things. That we have such a strong opinion that would impact our coaching presence, which basically bows down the areas that we could coach them on to a few, but still we can do this, but where coaching holds the biggest potential is in upbringing that type of thinking that we have adopted later in our lives when we became coaches, how many of you would agree that it was a life-changing experience when you first met coaching?
It was a completely different way of seeing the world, of seeing ourselves, of seeing others, of seeing the opportunities. And for many of us, it was at the age of 30 plus probably because coaching is still fairly a young thing out there as an approach, but there’s, that may just bring one more perspective to this.
Gaurav: How do I know if my child is open? You know, a child is always somebody who’s not 18, he’s not a child. So that’s the first perspective shift that we need to bring in. The second perspective shift is, at an age of 18, in most countries, you get a driving license at the age of 16 to 18. Now let’s try and understand, why does that happen? Because biologically the prefrontal cortex is more or less fully developed. So that means you are biologically and psychologically. You are ready to make decisions, to make distinctions, to make effective decisions. That is good for you. Having said that.
So that means a child at the age of 18. It’s not a child anymore. It’s your child. I respect that. It’s like every time I deal with my nephew who happens to be 24. For me, he is still a child. Now the question is not whether he’s open to coaching or not. The question is, are you the right coach for him? Because everyone is coachable.
That’s something to wander on. And now if he’s coachable and if I’m not the right person, now the second question is, Hey, what should do I need to bring in within myself that didn’t allow me to hold the space for him? The question is easy, but a difficult question to address.
Nadezhda Mihaylova is a professional coach, a mentor coach, and an international trainer on enhancing personal growth and leadership capacity with more than 20 years of experience on four continents. She is a member of the elite international faculty of Erickson Coaching International, Canada, and is a lead facilitator of the renowned ICF accreditation program “The Art & Science of Coaching” and the innovative program “Parent as Coach”.
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