Guest Article from Mark Brandenberg, who specializes in coaching men.
Some men have trouble asking for help, and calling a coach is asking for help. Coaching men is useful because it is private. However, men don’t call coaches until they have a crisis. Men often call a coach when they are on the verge of a divorce. They are no good at picking up a wife’s signals that she’s tired of the marriage. They are often in shock about what is happening.
As a parenting expert coaching men, some clients will come with a crisis. A situation is imploding. How does a divorcing Dad converse with his son? A mother phones to say that her son wants to quit high school and join the Marines, and she does not like that idea.
Sometimes the crisis is low-key but still essential to the client. For example, a child needs to be potty-trained within a few weeks, or he will not be accepted into nursery school. Both clients want help! Both scenarios will impact your process of coaching men and the relationship with your client.
If the client is not in crisis, you will be able to establish your coaching sessions in a smoother way. If the client is in crisis, the focus of your first sessions will be helping the client through the rough spot and then establishing a vital goals in the coaching relationship.
Let the client talk it out.
Encourage your client to share deeper feelings. You have to listen. You listen actively and soulfully. Take notes. Hear your client’s concerns. Be aware of what the client says and what he or she is leaving out.
Listen to words, feel out the emotional content, and focus.
Stay in a listener’s role. You may be tempted to jump in with suggestions and practical information, but it is better to hold back and listen.
When coaching men, you may observe vulnerability and be tempted to take over the problem. At this point, remind yourself that you are coming from the coaching perspective, not a therapeutic one.
You are a coach, and as such, you believe that:
1. This client is a whole, healthy, and resourceful person.
2. This client has the inner resources to handle this problem.
Allow the person to talk through whatever is troubling him or her.
Ask questions so that you truly understand what is going on. The first session may be entirely about letting the client tell his story and vent emotions. You may do very little talking.
If a problem is fundamental and life-changing, you may have to refer your client for psychotherapy. When necessary, schedule more than one session per week in the first weeks of coaching. The thrust of your work will be to calm the person and determine how you, as a coach, can work with the person’s strengths to get her past the crisis mode. After a few sessions, the client will feel more in control.
My ideal client is between 35 and 65. She may be married or divorced with one or two children. She is middle class, educated, and lives in a middle-to-upper class neighborhood.
She has always been financially independent. She owns her own business or would like to have a part time business of her own. She is discerning with money, though will rarely spend it on herself unless it’s for a practical reason.
She makes lists and likes to be able to cross everything off her list, even though there is often more there than she can achieve. She compares her achievements to others as a way of gauging her worth. She often is overcritical of herself and lacks compassion for herself, though finds it for others.
She grew up in an environment where she had to take on responsibilities too early, which forced her to put aside her creative, spontaneous side and lose touch with her own needs and intuition. As a result, she is an over-responsible, independent, strong adult. She is dependable and tries to be there for others, whether it is in her best interest or not. She is overly loyal and often takes care of others because she feels like she should because nice people do that.
She follows the rules. She lives a lot in her own head and is afraid of making the wrong decision. She is a thinker and analyzer. As a result, she has lost touch with her own feelings and needs.
She has difficulty setting boundaries with others until circumstances become extreme. When she does set a boundary, she feels guilty and often softens the boundary or changes it to suit the other person. She says “yes” when she doesn’t want to, then feels resentful. She doesn’t have a good sense of self-worth and therefore has difficulty honoring herself.
She’s unaware of her own values and using them as a way of navigating life or making decisions. She makes decisions out of fear or guilt. Only when she feels she’s been pushed too far will she get angry and lash out or finally give herself what she wants.
She is a busy person who experiences free floating anxiety in quiet moments. She tries to get out of these feelings through staying busy, eating, or distracting herself with Internet activities. She is afraid to feel “negative” feelings for fear they will lead to something bad or shut her down completely. She is knowledgeable about positive thinking and feels guilty or fearful if she isn’t thinking constructively.
She has a spiritual reference (God, the Universe, Spirit, Higher Self) and may engage in a spiritual practice. She has trouble with meditation because her mind is constantly busy. She loves self-help books, psychology, and spirituality (especially relationship books, Law of Attraction, and codependency). She loves to read or learn about these things so she can fix her problems. When an issue arises, a book or self-help source soothes her. She feels in control of the problem.
She is afraid to let go of control. She has difficulty relaxing and will often need to eat, drink, or distract herself with Internet use to relax.
She is constantly thinking about the future and the next moment. She’d like to have more fun or nurturing activities, but can’t give herself permission or justify them. She often feels overwhelmed and drained. Her feelings seem to vacillate between anxious and depressed.
She can be found working on her computer either from home or at coffee shops, running errands, and taking care of the people in her life. She enjoys bookstores and self-growth classes. She has a creative side, though it is undeveloped and not given priority. She has a worldly cause she believes in that she may or may not be aware of yet. She enjoys people and has friends, but doesn’t make relationships a priority – this can be because of lack of time or lack of energy.
She has difficulty trusting or being intimate with men. She often attracts untrustworthy or needy men. (Or this could describe her relationship to a husband.)
Her greatest desire is to learn to love herself. She realizes she doesn’t treat herself well and wants to change. Yet she feels caught in shame or guilt when taking steps toward this.
She is tired of feeling anxious and depressed. She wants to feel better about herself and her relationships, but does not know how, despite the self-help books.
She is attracted to my sense of self-acceptance, non-judgment, safety, optimism, and trust in myself and a Higher Power for my safety and future.
She is ready to work with me because she sees my story and wants the balance and security I’ve achieved within myself. She feels seen and safe.
I offer her a place to begin to get to know her own feelings and emotions without fear. I show her how to feel her feelings in a way that will allow, heal them, and lead her to hear her own Inner Voice. She feels encouraged to listen to and take action toward her own needs and self-care. She experiences more self-love, self-compassion, and self-trust.
She feels more settled in her body and is able to feel good about herself and her decisions. When she makes a mistake, she sees the growth and good without shame. Though life may present her challenges, she feels more confident in herself and in life to take care of her. She is able to be with others in a way that allows her to be real and unafraid. She is able to lovingly set boundaries. Her relationship with herself and others are healthier because she is different inside. She now honors herself and is able to present with others in a way that honors them.
New ideas and desires arise in her as a result. She is more in touch with her body, needs, and emotions. She knows more of what she needs and where her limits are. She knows herself and how to take care of herself under stress. She has the resources, tools, and knowledge to handle her life. She can hear own Inner Voice and feels empowered to take risks towards what she desires.
Traditionally, many school-aged children love school and look forward to start of a new school year. But for other children, it’s also a time of great stress. In fact, stress—those overwhelming feelings of doubt about ourselves or our ability to handle things—is as common in children as adults. The greatest challenge to parents today is teaching children to manage stress effectively. Children may react to excess stress with behavior that seems immature, inappropriate, or even disturbing. One child exhibits anxiety and tears the night before going back to school. Another child speaks of new teacher and asks her parents questions while trying to imagine the teacher’s personality. Another child enjoys shopping for school clothes and looks forward to seeing new friends. Stress can be terrifying to children who lack the emotional maturity or experience to understand and deal with it. The challenge for parents, teachers, and other caretakers include how to recognize signs of stress in children of different ages, how to know when stress threatens to overwhelm a child, and what to do about it. In Nurture Your Child’s Gift, I offer excellent suggestions to help parents cope with their children’s stress. A stressed-out condition can result from a specific cause or from life in general. Here are some examples:
- At 17, Jen was a high school senior expecting to graduate with honors in the Spring. Just before Christmas, however, Jen’s father lost his job and the family had to move into the basement of a cousin’s house. Jen soon developed a severe allergy, then asthma. The illness cost her so much time from school that she required home-schooling to make up the difference.
- Mark was only two when his parents divorced. Confused, Mark wandered the house, calling plaintively for his father, but weekends with Dad made him cry. Most weekends, Mark developed upset stomachs that were so bad he’d miss preschool on Mondays.
Toddlers need to feel safe and comfortable. Stress for preschool children can arise from a new face at home or at day care, the disappearance of a familiar face, visiting lots of new places at once, or abrupt changes in the family’s structure, relationships or daily routine. During the grade-school years, children become concerned with pleasing people like teachers, parents, guardians and coaches. School life—even a change in assigned seating or having to take a test—brings higher levels of stress every year. And when it comes to peers, even the threat of diminished acceptance is terrifying. Sleep-overs, birthday parties, sporting events and music competitions can trigger stressful reactions. Through middle school and beyond, the pressures kids feel from parents, teachers, peers, society at large, and from within increases. Children have to learn adapt to these pressures. Because they have grown in their intelligence, curiosity and knowledge of community, demands for their attention, time, energy and effort can often feel like a tug of war. As in the cases of Mark and Jen, it is not unusual for life-altering events to express themselves in illness. At the University of Missouri, for instance, researcher Mark Flinn found that a child’s risk of upper-respiratory infection increases by 200 percent for the seven days following a high-stress event. And parents like Miranda’s might confuse what they believe are normal behavior with an expression of anxiety. Children often display their tensions in small acts that have aggressive undertones.
How You Can Help
- There are many ways parents can help their children deal with stress and stressful situations.
- Don’t try to fix everything for the child, and avoid offering advice. Sometimes just listening so that your child feels truly heard may be enough to relieve the stress.
- As you listen, ask questions that encourage your child to think a situation through. “What’s the next step?” or “How would you handle that?” are good questions. Ask a lot of “what-if” questions, too.
- Help children listen to themselves. Nurture Your Child’s Gift suggests quiet-time techniques for children to listen to nature sounds like rain or waves upon the beach, to their own heartbeat, or to recordings of whales, dolphins or birds.
- Encourage children to spend time listening to their thoughts. When they feel free to speak their own thoughts aloud about a situation, things suddenly become clear.
- Nurture Your Child’s Gift details a diaphragmatic breathing exercise for kids and parents. Shallow breathing is associated with the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Deeper, effective breathing produces feelings of relaxation and calm.
- Use soothing and rhythmic music, even simple drumming, to help your child relieve muscle tension. It works!
- Don’t overlook exercise for releasing stress and tension. It works for your child just as it does for you. Have children walk the dog, get on the treadmill or stretch through easy yoga movements for children. Any movement they enjoy will help ease stress away.
- Parents can do much to alleviate stress in their children’s lives. Effectively dealing with your own stress is the first step. Showing your kids how to release their stress comes next.
Copyright © Caron B. Goode.
Early Behavioral Theories
By Deborah Beasley The groundwork that laid the early theories for our current understanding of treating, and parenting children with emotional, psychological, and developmental disorders is about 60 years old. In the last thirty years, research in the areas of trauma, stress, PTSD, and the child’s developing brain has intensified through the dedication of the superstars of the world of trauma, children, and affect-regulation. Noteworthy names include: • John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, for their work in early parent child attachment. (Download John-Bowlby link for PDF.) • Allen Shore for his extensive contemporary work in affect-regulation • Peter Levine, Bruce Perry, and Bessel van der Kolk for their unstoppable research and discovery in the effects of trauma on the neurobiological and social-emotional development of children. Their collective, groundbreaking, work is the sound philosophy of this training, backed by the science of neurobiology and neuropsychology. We now know that the healing path for children and families with emotional and behavioral difficulties rests on the firm foundation of these principles: 1. Healthy relationship and attachment between the parent and child as its pivotal point. 2. Understanding affect-regulation and brain development as the fulcrum of healing in the family. Our relationship-focused model combines the best strategies and methods of all other approaches. The results we seek in this coaching/parenting model are • To support and maintain a healthy relationship between the parent and child and unity in the family. • To respect the unique cultural differences in family composition, and • To identify and build upon the individual strengths and qualities of parent and child. This model uses the best practices of current behavioral, cognitive, sensorimotor and interpersonal approaches, as well as traditional wisdom and related modern science, to create a path to healing which best fits the circumstances and behavioral needs of individual families. We use what is usable within the context of a healing relationship and discard the rest. Are you a kind of person who wants to help families with special needs by becoming a parent coach but you don’t know how to become a parent coach? Register for our coaching families with special needs course and become a certified parent coach.
coaching families with special needs course