By Amanda C. (Contributor)
Edited by Ali Reza
Would you like to become a better parent? If so, get in the back of the line: Anyone who is a parent is keenly aware of his or her limitations, and of the daily need to strive harder and to do better. Parenting is both incredibly important and incredibly humbling; the stakes are high, and as such even a relatively small error can leave the ego bruised and battered.
Most parents are willing to do almost anything to boost their child-raising game—but what about hiring a parenting coach? Yes, parenting coaches exist, and yes, you can hire one to work with you on becoming a more deliberate, effective, and confident parent.
But the real question is: Is it worth it? Do parenting coaches actually get results—and is hiring a parenting coach the only way these results can be obtained?
Whether a parenting coach is right for you is ultimately something individual parents will have to decide on their own; with that said, it is important to be upfront about some of the benefits that parenting coaches can offer. Even if you’re a skeptic, read on and consider some of the ways in which parenting coaches can prove—in some cases—quite helpful.
- For one thing, hiring a parenting coach can provide you with some insight into what kind of parent you actually are. Where are you strong? Where are you weak? What’s your parenting style—and is it complemented or contradicted by that of your spouse? Knowing these answers can help you to be a more reflective and deliberate parent, but it’s hard to earnestly assess your parenting without an outsider’s perspective.
- Once you have a parenting coach to help you identify your baseline, you can—in theory—be more proactive in improving: Working to do better in the areas you’ve identified as weaknesses, and to build on the areas in which you are strong.
- A parenting coach can work with you to become a better listener, which is frankly something that many parents do not do well with. Working on your listening skills can help you be more empathetic and understanding of your kids; to build better lines of communication; and ultimately to be more effective in motivating them.
- Working with a parenting coach can also make you more aware of the power of your words. You may not be saying anything “wrong,” yet word choice comes with subtle implications, and you may not be aware of how your language affects your children. A more precise vocabulary can help you motivate, encourage, and discipline your children more effectively.
- A parenting coach can, of course, spend time speaking with you about any specific issues that you’re struggling with. These could be anything, just depending on the ages and dispositions of your children—discipline issues, sibling rivalries, lack of respect for authorities, laziness, or something else.
- You can also speak with your parenting coach about issues that are entirely practical—things like how to help your kids with their homework or encourage them to do better in school.
- Parenting coaches often have ample experience working with kids who have unique issues or hindrances, like learning disabilities or emotional problems—and as such, they can be invaluable resources for parents who have only recently discovered that their kids are so afflicted.
- A parenting coach can be a great sounding board for you as you think through the development of different household rules and policies—curfews, limits on screen time, or whatever else is on your mind.
The above list is not meant to be an unqualified recommendation for parenting coaches. Some parents like them, and benefit from them immensely; others do not, and that’s fine. This kind of coaching is not for everyone, but it’s foolish to write it off without thinking through the potential advantages.
Every parent wants to do the best that they can in the raising of their child with the resources that they have available. Parenting is one of the most researched areas within the incredibly broad field of social science—and interestingly enough is also an area where the results of studies have remained primarily consistent over time. While people may define parenting in different ways, there are consistent principles regarding the art of parenting.
- What you do as a parent matters. One of the keys to parenting is to be mindful in your actions. This means that you take an intentional approach toward your interaction with your child, and not simply react to situations. Ultimately, the more you work to deliberately be a good parent and engage in positive parenting, the more instinctual it becomes. Moreover, realize that you are going to make mistakes—it’s natural and part of the process. Therefore, don’t beat yourself up over it, but own up to it and move on. When a child sees that their parents are willing to take accountability for actions, this behavior is more likely to be mimicked.
- There can never be enough love. When a child feels continually and consistently loved, they will develop a strong sense of security and confidence in who they are as a person. This will help them as they develop and grow, and ultimately, make them less needy. However, understand that showing “love” doesn’t mean that you have to bribe or buy off your child. Love comes in the form of physical affection, responding to emotional needs, listening, and praise. It doesn’t come in the form of material possessions.
- Make an effort to be involved. One of the strongest indicators on the quality of a child’s mental, emotional, and physical health is based on the level of involvement of parents in the child’s life. When you spend quality time with your child, you are demonstrating that their interests and needs are important to you. This quality time does not only come in the form of attending extracurricular activities, like a soccer practice or a ballet recital, with them, but also being involved in their schooling, knowing who their friends are, showing an interest in what they are curious about.
- Realize that your parenting style can adapt and evolve over time. Your child is going to develop—physically, emotionally, and mentally. This means that what they require from you is going to change as well. Realize that your parenting style does not have to be rigid and unchanging, in fact, it needs to be flexible and fluid in order to meet your child’s unique stage of development. Moreover, understand too that your child is unique, and what is taught in the latest and greatest parenting book might not apply.
- Rules and limits must be set and adhered to. Every child needs structure in their life, and therefore, kids need to have their parents establish rules. Taking the time to set boundaries, establish what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior, and have a defined structure helps your child better develop the ability to manage their own behavior. This is especially helpful when your child transitions from only interacting with you and other family members, and starts operating in the external world with his or her friends and teachers.
- Foster a healthy sense of independence. As a parent, it is important for you to understand that your child must be able to successfully operate on their own, away from you and your influence. You must create a situation in your home where your child is able to be autonomous and independent. While you may have established rules and limits, realize that these things should not breed an environment of conformity. If this happens, it will be hard for your child to assert himself or develop independent leadership skills. Resist the urge to be a micromanager in your child’s life—allow them a say in how they do things and give them the chance to make their own decisions.
There is no more important job in any society than that associated with raising healthy and happy children. In closing, know that you are doing a good job as a parent and feel confident in the decisions you are making.