Free Course–Step Seven–Setting Boundaries

Even with a clear communication plan and format in place, your client may push the limits. Setting boundaries is a primary task for your peach of mind and your client's best coaching experience.  

  • Clients may keep you on the phone longer than you intended
  • They will email you more than is allowed
  • They might text you for non-emergencies
  • They will send you messages on Facebook, on Twitter, on Voxer, or anywhere else that is convenient for them—regardless of your preferences

Does This Work Both Ways?

Are you tempted to reach out on the weekend to answer a question or schedule a call on a Sunday afternoon because that's when your client is available. You might think this is good business—after all, you're building a relationships.

The idea is not the best for you. The situation will lead to burn out because your boundaries are weak.  You'll always feel like you must do more for your clients. Sooner or later, you'll lose touch with your own health and personal space.

Setting boundaries is the answer for both you and your customers. Establish from the outset exactly what your coaching package includes, and be sure to include when contact takes place.

 For example, you might say:

Your coaching package includes one monthly, 50-minute phone call with me and one question by email each working day.

 My workdays are Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm Eastern, and I'll answer all calls and emails during that time.

With this format, you are setting boundaries and have included 

  • What the client gets (one phone call and once daily emails)
  • When she gets it (Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm)

You’ll also need to establish exactly how your clients should contact you, and what will happen if they do not follow the procedures. Setting boundaries includes  specific email addresses and phone numbers or conference lines exclusively for your client use.

Another step is to create “planned responses” to send out when a client attempts to contact you outside of your established boundaries.. For example, if you receive a Facebook message (and you don’t offer this as a form of contact) you might respond with:

Thank you for reaching out, and I'm happy to help you with this big issue. For better organization of my client files, though, I do ask that you send all your questions to my email address at yourname@yourdomain.com.

A gentle reminder for setting boundaries creates a better coaching relationship for both of you.

To keep phone calls shorter, use a simple kitchen timer. At the start of the call, tell your client, "We have XX minutes today, so I'm going to set a timer for YY minutes to remind us when it's almost time to end. That will help ensure I can answer all your questions."

Then set your timer for 5 minutes before the call is to end. When the timer goes off, let your client know you have 5 minutes remaining, and ask if she has any final questions before you hang up. Following this simple system will prevent those endless phone calls that trample all forms of boundaries. 

Resist the temptation to allow calls to be booked outside of your working hours, or to respond to questions on the weekend, or to book additional appointments "just this once." 

Doing so will make it appear to your client that your boundaries are flexible, and will invite them to push the limits as well. After all, if you email on the weekend, it must be ok, right?

 

Exercise: Map Your Work Hours

 

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

6am

 

Exercise: Craft Your Boundary Responses

How will you set the expectation at the start of a call, so it does not run too long?

How will you respond if a client contacts you outside your established system?

What will you tell yourself when you fail to respect your own boundaries?

 

Behavioral Regulation-2-Administer Small Doses of Fun

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?

 

[ctt template="5" link="CIh11" via="yes" ]This is precisely why activities must be re-introduced in small manageable doses, so as not to cause further overwhelm. @parent_coach[/ctt]

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.

See also: Behavioral Regulation 1 and Behavioral Regulation 3

 

Enroll Now in Coaching Families With Special Needs in Behavioral Regulation