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  • Do you have something you want to ask? Here's the place for you to do just that! What are you struggling with right now as a parent? What do you wish you had a great tip for? I'll get started: I just had someone say there are lots of you out there who have kids who are complaining about school and not wanting to go - even young children. If there is a sudden change in a child's behavior, more often than not there is a reason. Finding out what that reason is can be the tricky part. When children love something (school, soccer, dance, etc...) at first, but then all of a sudden they are complaining and don't want to go, the first thing to do is be an investigator. What changed in that scenario? New teacher? Kids? Different class at school? See if you can think back to any change or ask around if any other parents, or the teacher are noticing the same thing. It could be your child was teased, or they realize they aren't as good as everyone else on the team. Maybe they got put in a different reading group and they don't like it. There are so many reasons why. So start by being an investigator and ask what's changed. Next, be observant. Maybe you can go observe at school - during recess, lunch, class time to see if you can spot the problem. Lastly, listen to the behavior. Children communicate by their behavior so try to monitor what your child is telling you through his/her behavior. Don't try to fix the problem at this point, try to listen to what your child thinks the problem is. When he is acting out, ask yourself, "what is he trying to tell me?" Validate that feeling and then see what he says next. In other words, he's screaming he won't go to school today; you can CALMLY say, "looks like you're really angry about going to school today - what is it about school that makes you so angry?" Please know: this won't work with every child, but it is a good place to start.
  • It's not as easy as you think. These are my two boys. Nearly 26 and 24. Parenting is never easy. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. It's hard. And right now I am preaching to the choir because you know exactly what I'm talking about, no matter what season of parenting you are in now. As my boys were growing up, I used to tell them and others, "This is my favorite age", whether they were 2 and 4, 7 and 9, or 12 and 14. Maybe you can relate. The older they got, the more they made fun of me saying that. But it really was true. There came a point one day when I reminded them of that statement and told them it was no longer true. They had become young men. Looking back, there's something very comforting about having kids that are still dependent on you -whether it's to change a diaper, fix them dinner, provide them shelter or drive them to one more soccer practice. I miss those days. But once I couldn't claim them as dependents on my tax return, things changed. Parenting became a whole different ball game. And it's really not my favorite game now. What do we do as parents when our children are independent or at least we now have a lot less control than we used to? I believe there are 3 things we can do. 1. Focus on Yourself As a Christian, that may sound counter-intuitive, but I don't think it's un-biblical. Here's what I mean. There is a season for us to focus on the needs of our children. No doubt. But when they are grown (at least physically and legally) that's the point when we need to back off a little bit or maybe a lot. We can do that easier by finding a passion that you can really develop and pursue. It doesn't mean you ignore your children, it just means you re-focus. Which leads me to my second suggestion: 2. Let Them Make Their Own Choices Like every kid, mine have made some bad decisions. But one of them after my divorce began using drugs. And as the years passed, the drugs became harder and more frequent. At first, I tried to control everything so that he would stop using. I yelled. I pleaded. I did everything I could think of. But there came a point when I knew I had to let him go - and more than once I thought my son was dead. But I knew I couldn't rescue him or make his choices for him. And by God's grace alone, he got help and is a wonderfully godly father and on the worship team at his church. To speak the words of Andy Stanley, I did what I could do (which wasn't much) and let God do what I couldn't (which was everything). I believe that's true for all of us empty-nesters. 3. Please don't skip over this third one: Pray. This is not cliche for us as Christians. Praying is our conversation with God - the God who gives us power, wisdom, comfort, and understanding through the Holy Spirit. Prayer is the most powerful and effective thing we can do because it is the way to tap into the most powerful and loving God. What do we pray for? I can't answer that specifically. Sometimes I pray for conviction. Sometimes I pray for God to show Himself so big and so alive to them. Sometimes I just cry out. What praying does is recognize where the real control is now - with the perfect Father of all. Not with us. And praying to Him is doing our most powerful thing we can do for our children. Parenting is never easy. But if you are in this independent season that lasts longer than any of the others, sit back and let God remind you of your good parenting moments and cherish them. Pray. Let them make their own choices, good or bad, and go find something fun to do. I'll be right there beside you.
  • Read a handful of media stories on parenting coaches, and a familiar narrative emerges. The coverage often kicks off with an anecdote about unruly children and their frazzled parents. In a 2008 Newsweek article, for example, a 5-year-old girl can't seem to get along with play dates, blowing her top if pint-sized companions don't fall in line with her dictatorial demands [source: Kuchment ]. Similarly, the New York Times, in 2005, featured a pair of roughhousing brothers whose antics exhausted their mother to no end [source: Belluck ]. After portraying the domestic environments run amok, reporters typically introduce a parenting coach who, after a series of consultations, helps resolve both child management issues and parental insecurity. Parenting coaches are like niche cousins of life coaches , professional mentors who help clients puzzle out personal difficulties, such as maintaining work-life balance or forming healthier family habits. For a fee, parenting coaches, who often conduct their sessions over the phone, serve as support hotlines for moms and dads to strategize approaches to common challenges such as toilet training, attachment issues and general household supervision. Some coaching services involve in-home visits to observe parent-child interactions firsthand, whereas others restrict their outreach to the Internet, offering instant message chats with coaches and e-newsletters filled with tips and resources. Parenting coaches allow moms and dads to confer with third parties about childcare hiccups, without having to rely on friends and family, who might offer biased advice, or see a specialist, which generally comes with a higher price tag [source: Belluck ]. Employing a parenting problem solver can also save time for moms and dads whose typically packed schedules leave little room for commuting to therapy appointments and sifting through self-help manuals. Potential money and time savings aside, these dial-up mentors shouldn't be confused with licensed child or family therapists. Although some coaching organizations require employees to complete curriculum-based certification courses, there isn't an industry-wide standard when it comes to educational background or training for parenting coaches. Licensed therapists may refer clients to parenting coaches to work on non-clinical issues from time to time, but just as department store personal shoppers aren't fashion designers, coaches aren't mental health experts. That distinction is cause for concern among some child psychologists and professional therapists, because kids' behavioral problems -- which might stem from mental health problems -- are a primary reason parents turn to coaches for help [source: ParentingCoachTraining.com ]. But before we explore whether such wariness is warranted, first let's cover the bases of how parenting coaches work. Parent coaches started springing up in the United States and Canada in the early 2000s, right around the time when reality television shows about Mary Poppins-like "super nannies" -- who swoop into homes to tame problem children and powerless parents -- competed for ratings [source: Rosenberg ]. Those specialized coaching services weren't necessarily a byproduct of the TV nanny trend, but they're similarly modeled on the idea of injecting hands-on child rearing expertise into parenting. But while the nannies portrayed on-screen came with resumes replete with extensive childcare credentials, the backgrounds of parenting coaches can be far more diverse. Many parent coaches transition to the field from early education , social work and child psychology careers [source: Kuchment ]. For example, Gloria DeGaetano founded the Parent Coaching Institute (PCI) in 2000 after years of teaching in grade school- and college-level classrooms [source: Parent Coaching Institute ]. Prospective coaches who complete DeGaetano's year-long distance learning coursework also are required to have at least two years of prior experience working with parents in some capacity to be accepted into the program, which focuses on understanding parenting styles and honing coaching techniques. Meanwhile, plenty of parent coaches also come from a variety of jobs unrelated to family development and childcare, and may not have been formally trained as mentors. Some may simply base their coaching on their own parenting practices [source: Good Morning America ]. For that reason, savvy moms and dads interested in investing in this type of help ought to investigate coaches' credibility before hiring. Coaching often starts with an hour-long phone or in-home consultation that allows the parenting mentor to identify problem areas, such as a child's persistent disobedience to household rules; set goals, such as successful potty training; and build rapport with the child-weary client. From there, specific coaching models and follow-up check-ins will vary, depending on the individual practice and the severity of the parenting conundrum. In addition to addressing specific child-rearing dilemmas, coaches encourage parents to pay more attention to their own self-care -- in other words, finding more relaxation and self-confidence in exercising their authority. The cost of parent coaching varies, with initial intake sessions running about $100. From there, monthly or weekly sessions are either billed by the hour -- $75 per hour is a commonly cited price point -- or as a flat rate, generally $250 or $300 per month. Though that only adds to the already steep of costs raising kids, according to one survey from a parent coaching practice, people are willing to pay between $125 to $149 for a single session, and 15 percent of respondents said the reassurance and calm they derive from the paid guidance is priceless [source: ParentingCoachTraining.com ]. And when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of parent coaching, that peace of mind is one of the most commonly cited benefits. The success of parent coaching in fostering long-term positive change hasn't been studied in-depth, possibly because the industry is relatively new and remains unregulated, unlike licensed therapy programs. Nevertheless, non-peer-reviewed surveys and evaluations conducted by parent coaching institutions indicate that a majority of clients find the services helpful. A 2007 case study of three parent coaching projects developed by the Parent Coaching Institute found that participants at each site reported significantly improved parenting skills as a result of the professional mentoring [source: Schriffin and DeGaetano ]. Similarly, in a 2001 analysis of the impact of coaching on four parents with "noncompliant children," early childhood education researchers found progress among the entire group [source: Marchant and Young ]. Even Web-based counseling has been shown to be an effective outlet for cultivating parenting best practices [source: Wade et al ]. In a way, coaching can be more valuable for its potential to train-up happier parents than its ability to mold happier kids. Research out of Ohio State University published in 2011 found that mothers and fathers with lower confidence in their parenting abilities experience higher levels of childcare-related stress and fear of being negatively judged [source: Lee, Schoppe-Sullivan and Kamp ]. A reassuring voice on the phone cheering them along the way and urging them to trust their instincts can provide much-needed relief to those who feel inadequately qualified for bring up their sons and daughters. Also, the "myth of perfect parenting" -- the unrealistic, media-perpetuated expectations of hassle-free mother - and fatherhood -- has only added more pressure to the intensive job of modern-day child rearing; coaches, at times, can temper that intensity with logical problem-solving and emotional support [source: American Academy of Pediatrics ]. Considering the inherently mentally and physically taxing occupation of raising kids, parent coaches can be worth every penny, because it sometimes pays for moms and dads to have someone in their corner. Cristen Conger "How Parenting Coaches Work" 29 May 2012. HowStuffWorks.com. <https://people.howstuffworks.com/parenting-coach.htm> 12 March 2018

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