Moms as Coaches
According to Coach Coker “A coach’s role is to help people Clarify, Focus and Execute their goals. Mothers play this role more often than they know.” Parents are the first coaches a child will ever have. Not to take away recognition from Dad, but it is almost Mothers’ Day, so this article focuses on Mom. We help our babies learn to roll over, crawl, walk, talk, share, and use the potty, but what else should we be teaching them? When our babies become school-age, there are new skill sets to learn on top of the education that is taking place within the school, and these should be taught in the home. Mom to the rescue.
As our children grow, they will sometimes have to face failure. We can use this as a learning experience by teaching them optimism. Yes, sometimes we have setbacks, but we can’t succeed at something if we never try it. We teach them to focus on solutions, not problems. Persistence should be rewarded in addition to success, as this helps our children develop resilience. They should be taught to win and lose gracefully as well.
Take an interest in what interests your children as they start to learn about the world around them. Helping them to have multiple interests will set them up for different opportunities in life and will help them find more successes. Whenever possible, connect what interests them to something they may be learning, or will learn, at school. Do they like to help you cook? Use measuring the ingredients for a fun math lesson. Keep the learning fun, though, by adapting to your children’s learning styles. Some will learn better by listening, while some will learn better by seeing, and still others will learn best by doing. Confucius said, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
Building your children’s self-esteem is a very important job, as they are likely to carry these thoughts throughout their life. Praise for every achievement isn’t enough either. Our children need to be taught to take risks, make choices, solve problems, and to finish things they start. We need them to learn to be competent in addition to feeling loved and secure. This takes patience and practice; they won’t be great at everything on the first try, and they need to know that this is okay. Failure is something we can’t always rescue them from, but that shouldn’t make them afraid to try. Children need to learn from their mistakes just as adults do. Let your children make decisions and then take responsibility for them. If they want a messy bedroom, consider letting them have it. They’ll see the difference between their room and the rest of the house and can decide for themselves if that’s what they want. Even very young children can learn to pick up clothes, toys, and how to make their bed. Even when they make bad decisions, though, they should know your love is unconditional. Teach your children to aim high, but make sure the goals are within their grasp and are at a level appropriate for their ability. We don’t want them to set themselves up for failure.
The terrible teens . . . We remember them well. Teenagers will test their boundaries and our patience on a regular basis. With harder coursework at school, puberty, and peer pressure, it can be expected. It’s that time when a child wants to see what he or she is made of. They are also (still) watching us and learning from the examples we set that will lead them into adulthood. Trying to fit in at school isn’t as easy as it once was, as the kids begin to associate with different cliques, and popularity becomes a contest. They will roll their eyes at us, make hurtful statements just to get a reaction, and will probably ignore us in public if peers are nearby, but we love them. We’re their moms. Don’t worry, though, because even if they act otherwise, they still value your opinion. Momma knows best, right? We must show them the difference between good and bad peer pressure. Your teen will likely mimic behaviors of his or her friends, so it’s good to encourage healthy friendships with multiple peers. If they have one close friend, and they get into a fight . . . Well, we know how that turns out. Teens watch our relationships with our peers and learn from that, so do you set a good example?
Be certain to spend quality time with your teen and show that you are listening to him or her and are still interested in their interests. Still provide your teen with new opportunities to learn through activities and conversations with you. What they don’t learn at home, they are going to learn from somewhere else, and that’s not always something we want. Sometimes, we would like to filter information our teens are gathering (i.e. the birds and the bees). That is something they won’t likely bring up to you, so you may have to reach out to them.
Make sure your teen feels trust with you. You trust him or her to make some decisions, but he or she needs to know that they are going to be held accountable for unhealthy choices. Discuss healthy options with your teen and see how he or she can be a positive influence on others. When your child helps another, it helps to build his or her self-esteem. Our teens long to feel important. They want to know that they can impact the world and the lives of others, but they also want to know what they will get out of it. What’s in it for me? As their coach, you need to sometimes tell or show them, and help build the motivation to carry out certain tasks. Homework, for example, is something your teen will probably dread. They may not see the practicality of learning algebra or US history, but they need to realize it has its place and isn’t useless knowledge. Help your teen to realize that tasks that seem meaningless have a purpose in his or her life’s greater goals. We do work because work needs to be done.
Even teens expect rewards, so use that to your advantage when assigning chores. If a weekly allowance isn’t in your budget, think of another way to reward their efforts. Your teen will learn that sometimes we do the things we don’t want to do in order to enjoy the things we desire. For example, we earn paychecks not just for everyday essentials, but to save up for a vacation. Surely, there is something they desire that hard work will bring them closer to achieving.
Your adult child
Just because your children have left the nest, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need your influence in their lives anymore. They will still seek advice on relationships, jobs, and how to get by on a budget as they journey out on their own. They may even need to move back home for financial reasons at some point. Of course, if that happens, they aren’t wanting to be treated like a child; they just want you to be supportive and understanding of whatever it is they are going through. If you don’t address the issues at hand, though, they may start acting like a teenager again. Therefore, it’s a good idea to discuss what is going on, what they want to see happen to make things better, and how you can help to get them there. This isn’t to say you should take on their problems; your adult children still need to be accountable for their mistakes. Instead of laying blame, which seems to often be a gut reaction, look at the workable solutions. Help them to be a problem solver instead of dwelling on what has already happened because we can’t change the past. Our children need a clear vision of moving forward, with our continued support and unconditional love.
Remember that as your children grow up, teaching and training are two different things. The first emphasizes words, while the other emphasizes actions. They should start learning responsibility at an early age, so it will flow through their whole lives. Being consistent with your children is important, so they always know that bad decisions have consequences, and they know what those consequences will be.
If at first you don’t succeed, try doing it like your mother told you. Happy Mothers’ Day!