Use coaching as an alternative approach to encouraging children and fostering growth

Build your child’s self-esteem, social, communication and coping skills with these encouraging coaching techniques.

Sometimes parents assume their children need direct orders and a lot of structure when teaching them something. There are some other ways parents can foster learning in various settings without a lot of unnecessary instructions and questions. One of those ways is by practicing  “persistence coaching.”

Persistence Coaching is something a parent does to help their child learn to be tenacious when trying to accomplish a difficult task. This type of coaching helps children recognize when they are concentrating, staying focused and calm or patient. For children who are typically inattentive, easily frustrated, impulsive and hyperactive, persistence coaching works well to help them recognize their state of mind. Children become more aware when it is brought to their attention and they also learn that it’s normal to find certain tasks difficult to learn or accomplish. But with a child’s patience,  persistence and their parent’s support they can eventually work through it with the end result being accomplishment. For example, if a child is staying calm and being very patient a parent could say something like, “You are working really hard at keeping your body calm!”          

Another type of coaching is Descriptive Commenting and Academic Coaching. Descriptive commenting and academic coaching is when a parent or caregiver is on the “side lines” literally describing what they see. It could be a description of color, shape, position or location, (which is more academic coaching) of an object a child is playing with or a description of what a child might be doing. An example of descriptive commenting could be a dad watching his son play basketball and he could use descriptive commenting by saying, “Wow! You are jumping really high” Not only is this letting the child know that his dad is paying attention to what he is doing, but it is also making him feel good about what he is doing because his dad is complementing him. If a parent was doing academic coaching he/she may say something like, “I see you put the green block on top of the red block,” or “Wow! You have two more red blocks left to stack”

Although it may take time to feel comfortable with this type of coaching, it will definitely pay off. It will increase your child’s language skills and school readiness, build positive self-esteem and social skills, and it will foster positive communication skills and coping skills.

For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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