Is there a connection between parenting and coaching?
Through this blog I am attempting to establish a connect between the two. I will try to evaluate a few of the coaching competencies and their related impact on parenting.
Let us have a look at those competencies one at a time .
It is extremely important and imperative for the parent to build trust with the child. What one needs to keep in mind is that in this relationship are no alternatives available. Here once the trust is broken it is next to impossible to create it back. Hence, it is critical that one starts building trust from Day One. Along the way one realises that each stage gets more demanding, unlimited patience and tireless efforts are required as the child grows and probably peaks at their adolescence. One must start building trust early and stop looking over the shoulders constantly. I know it is difficult for a parent to have cent percent trust, , as the threat of distractions, overt exposure to media from a young age are the bane of this generation and its effects have never been felt as adversely. . The trust being advocated here is not a blanket trust. One needs to carefully evaluate the aspect for which they will trust blindly and the situations wherein there will be restrained and perhaps even conditional trust. For eg; “ok son, you can do this, however you need to do this aswell “ . However, we need to be extremely cautious that this deal not tantamount to a bribing deal. Trust building discussion should be clear, concise and not open to manipulative actions.
This brings me to the next important competency which is direct communication. While building trust is a two way process, ie; in its fulfillment the trust grows, it is solely upon the parent to ensure direct communication exists and there is an open channel with your child for communication. One thing I realized and leant from my own experiences is that sarcasm doesn’t work with children. Don’t under estimate their ability to differentiate between the choice of tone or words that you use when speaking to them. Hence, the first rule for perfect communication should be “No to Sarcasm”. We as parents are so caught up in our professional worlds that we often forget with whom we are communicating and tend to use the same sledge hammer indiscriminately.. On the same note, one needs to exercise caution in the choice of vocabulary. Be simple, direct and unambiguous. This is not a debate or a spell bee competition. The purpose here is to get across to the other person in a clear and appropriate manner. A manner in which your child can relate to the intent and message in the same spirit.
While in a day to day scenario, one would end up in having need based discussions, a parent should have impromptu chats as well. This throws up a lot of opportunities for building bond and trust between the parent and child. The child will be more amenable to listening and open to ideas, suggestions being discussed, when he or she knows that the discussion is initiated without any pre set agenda. The child would feel less judged, cornered or pushed to accept the parent’s suggestion or ideas.
In the same tone, the next one I want to address is listening. The power of Listening is a divine gift. Some people are born with it and some acquire it.
What is listening? “Listening is to give your complete attention to sound or action. When listening, you are hearing what others are saying, and trying to understand what it means “ is what Oxford Dictionary says. And different sources speak about various type of listening such as Discriminative, Critical, Biased etc;
Is listening limited only to sound? I don’t think so. I strongly feel if you are responding or acknowledging to someone’s emotions or expressions that is also is listening.
What happens when we listen? To start with we build trust. The discussion takes us to a different level of collaboration. This leads to open communication and bonding.
We often end up in giving less importance to child talks. But more often than not, they have something important to communicate. Dedicate 100% of your attention when a child is talking. Have eye contacts. Their expressions say much more than their words most of the time… feel the tone…. See the emotions in their eyes….notice the body language… do not miss anything. Further, it is important to be non-judgmental. Do not assume. Wait for the child to complete before you answer. Never listen with a purpose of answering. Do not frame your answers as you listen. Wait for them to finish before you even think of your answer. This is not a cross questioning race. Provide space to the child to talk and comfort that you are listening.
One can see that there is a strong correlation between the three aspects of coaching/parenting we discussed above.
All these competencies should be coexisting for them to be effective. While coexistence is important, it is also important that like a machine wheel, they work in tandem without any friction. They need to function like well oiled machine wheels. When one the wheels start wearing off, the other two suffer which affects the overall functioning of the machinery, which is in this case parenting.