Coaching and children or how to create independent individuals
Coaching as an instrument of development is often associated with the adult world, and even more so with a setting where you have a meeting with an expert and work on a specific goal. And that is correct.
But what I want to write about today is that coaching has made my communication with my son a lot easier.
I remember exactly the first conscious experience when I decided to apply the process with him. He was around three years old and wanted biscuits, right at the time when after a full day of running around I had finally sat on the couch to read and rest. And the biscuits were naturally in the kitchen cupboard, too high for him to reach. Instead of the classic form of “stimulus-reaction” (translated: I get up and give him the biscuits), I recalled my countless lectures in which I teach employers how to coach employees and thought: let me try!
And I started with questions and observation of reactions.
How much do you really want to eat biscuits?
How would you feel you if you did not get them now?
And how would you feel if you could reach them on your own? …
After I had established that his motivation was strong enough, I went further …
How do you think you could get the biscuits?
What could help you to be taller?
What can you use in the house to get closer to the cupboard?
The child of course understood quickly that he could take a chair, move it closer and climb on it, and of course he did not turn the chair towards the kitchen elements, so it was a little dangerous so I reacted with:
What do you think could happen if you lean too much on this side, and the chair is standing like this…?
And, long story short, it took me a few minutes and a dozen of “smart” questions during which I could observe his astonished little face, but the kid at the end reached the biscuits with a great feeling of success and satisfaction. And I was still on the couch, hence my sense of satisfaction too … 🙂
I had to remind him a few more times after this episode, when he asked me using the previous habit of getting him the biscuits, that he could do it on his own, and after that he simply carried out that action, and many others, because his brain began to evaluate the option of independent action and in which ways that was possible.
Of course, you do this in those times when you want your child to get the biscuits, so ask yourselves before when do you want your children to develop independence. 🙂
So I began to pay attention to all the situations in which the same approach could be of use and they started happening, depending on its growing age. For example, on statements: Mom, I’m bored, questions would pop up in me such as, What can you do now? How can you boost your creativity? Which game haven’t you played in a long time? How can I help you?
Or at: I do not know how to write this homework. I would ask: Who can help you? Where can you find solutions? How can you solve at least what you do know?
I do not mean to say that this approach is a panacea because the child will say sometimes: I do not know, nothing, no one can help me or the like, but it’s worth trying. And persistence will surely be paid off.
Independence is created by trying to do the action on our own and collecting successes, i.e. when we are able to overcome obstacles and solve the difficulties alone. And we often see helicopter-parents who control their children in everything and do not allow them to develop their autonomy, from playing in the park, to some household duties that are appropriate for the child’s age, not to mention the control of homework, school bags, instructions for homework. And then they complain that their children are not very independent, when it was the parents who did not create space to actually develop real autonomy.
In the meantime official psychology research has shown that the division between internal and external (intrinsic and extrinsic) motivation does not practically make much sense, because any external motivation is valid only if it is backed up by the internal one. For example, if you tell a child: you will get ice cream if you eat your lunch, the child will eat lunch only if he really wants ice cream, and this is again his inner motivation for ice cream.
In fact, the feeling of self-motivation to do something because we achieve our own goal or success in which we can enjoy and feel good is well known to everyone. And as long as motivation comes (apparently) from the outside, that feeling is by nature inauthentic. Coaching approach from the early age actually does exactly this and stimulates the sense of resourcefulness, success, self-sufficiency (and not the need for external appreciation and approval) that are inevitable elements of building an authentic self-confidence.