In the Stands or In The Game

While today’s kids are more scheduled and pressured than ever, they are also coming of age in a world where setting aside time to teach and foster healthy human connections, creativity and self-knowledge is low on the priority list, given the time constraints it’s beginning to seem like our children’s social skills and emotional lives may now be categorized as “extracurricular.”

Enter life coaching for kids.

“Coaching on how to be a kid?” you might ask. “Really?”

Really. Life coaching for kids doesn’t come cheap: Services range from $60 to $180 an hour or more, and though some practitioners use a sliding scale, they typically aren’t covered by insurance.  The word coach can be traced to the Hungarian word for carriage. This makes sense to me, given the transformative and active language many coaches use to describe their practice.

 

Taking action, moving forward

Kids, teens and adults alike feel the desire to move forward: to practice a skill today and try it tomorrow, to find more information and come up with a plan, to respond to calls for action as well, most likely because their worlds are anchored in immediacy — they want to feel better connected now. When a teen has buy-in, the results can be just as powerful as they are when I work with adults. But teens need to know their true story and learn how to bring that passion forward.  Girls for example need to experience what it can feel like to be in a healthy friendship or practice making good choices as teens.

Workshops for teen girls address planning skills, decision making related to drugs and sex, and the high levels of pressure that teens experience. By role-playing real-life scenarios, I feel it is important to give teen clients the chance to plan ahead for some of the most important decisions they’ll face.

Building resilience

Not all children are born understanding how to approach a group of other kids or handle sharing with a friend during a game. Some need to practice. Why wouldn’t we give our children the chance to learn these connecting skills if we know it will support their resilience and sense of self-worth? To protect and support our kids, we willingly spend money on tools related to academic success and athletic coaching. I would argue that understanding how to navigate the social and practical challenges of everyday life is equally important.

On the other hand, getting professional help to manage the rapidly changing and often physically disconnected world of childhood or adolescence may feel like a cop-out to some parents. “Should we really be outsourcing this work with our children?”

Of course, good parenting is central and key to a child feeling connected and safe. Coaching is not meant to be an alternative to parenting. However, teens are developmentally wired to pull away from their parents. And it is healthy for them to do so. Where, then, can they go to learn strategies that work for them if they are not talking to their parents, and the school counselor is not someone with whom they feel a connection.

As they become teenagers, our kids may find themselves with work, relationships and activities to juggle without a real understanding of how to self-regulate, plan or problem-solve. Coaching provides an opportunity to rebuild this resilience — or grow it from scratch if needed.

Coaching is a great model because it works, but also because of the images the word evokes for the child: Someone is rooting for you, guiding you and cheering you on.

And who among us couldn’t benefit from a little of that?!?