Administering fun in small daily doses will be the first challenge for coach and parents alike. After all, what parent thinks about fun when their personal energies are sucked into
- A perpetual whirlwind of
- Frequent phone calls from teachers about a child’s behaviors, and
- Unending fears or concerns for the welfare and future of a child?
This is precisely why activities must be re-introduced in small manageable doses, so as not to cause further overwhelm. @parent_coach
You can be certain that the stress the parent experiences and has experienced, has robbed them of their ability to be creative. Their tolerance levels are stuck in a stress state of inflexibility.
Coaching How To Stretch and have Fun
When, in the course of the coaching relationship, it is time to stretch a client to consider initiating a fun activity with child or family, don’t make them think about it too much. Simplicity makes for an easier transition. Trust me, having to think about it will hurt. The brain under extreme or long-term stress suffers mind-blowing effects, literally!
Stress prevents the frontal cortex in the brain from processing and accessing stored or new information. When you ask, “What can you do to bring more connective fun into your daily lives?” and your client responds with,
- “I just can’t think!” ,
- “I’m so confused, I can’t sort it all out!”
- “I wouldn’t know where to begin.”
These statements reveal that the frontal cortex is overloaded, and is not immediately capable of making a clear decision. Thus, It makes sense that your client will have a hard time thinking of part or all of a creative plan for fun in the family. Additionally, it may be a case where they just don’t feel like doing it.
When parents are stressed and exhausted, it is difficult for them to ascertain where they will access all this new positive energy you are about to require of them. Coaches make considerations as to the neurophysiology of the parent, as well as the child. Therefore, parents must begin with the simplest of activities. Recall the analogy of the overfilled glass of water or the bucket ready to tip. Use these analogies to help your clients visualize or physically demonstrate where personal stress levels are for them and their child.
Focus on Being Goal Oriented
We are helping the parent to be goal oriented. We want parent’s to experience success and see the measure of their labors. We are not just filling them up with busy time activities because there is a purpose to every action they undertake. With this in mind we:
- Begin by helping the parent to identify the end goal of the activity.
- Ask the parent to articulate what they want.
- They can write it down and then read it back to you. This way mind, heart, and body are fully engaged in the process.
- What do they want to get? What will they give? What does the outcome look like, as in these four examples:
- I want this activity to bring our family closer together.
- I want this activity to help me feel better about my ability to parent in this difficult situation.
- I want this activity to let my child know how much I love them.
- This activity will help us communicate better and show that we can still have fun together.
Setting an end goal and keeping it in sight helps the parent to resist giving up when the first few attempts do not go well.
(The prior statement is a huge clue to each of you, that this is a process. Families will experience a learning curve depending upon the amount of conflict or stress in their environment, and with their child.)
- Discuss a minimum period for a parent to engage actively with child or family. 15- 20 minutes is appropriate.
This recommendation is tailored to the family situation, and may have to be adjusted to meet the parent or child’s needs. For instance, 10 minutes of interaction is a lot for some parents or children, while 30 minutes is a great fit for other families to begin with. A joint determination of the period of time is made by parent and coach depending on the parent/child’s level of stress, and the ability to tolerate new interactions. Keep in mind, that additions to or changes in routines, and conditioned negative expectations of interactions between family members are all transitions, which upset the balance as the child or family knows it now.
Consistency and accountability affords greater success for parents.