What is parent coaching?
Parent coaching is a process wherein parents or caregivers can learn, make changes, and get resources and support within a non-judgmental, safe, and professional relationship. Parent coaching can be helpful for a family who wishes for a more peaceful home with clearer communication, who are struggling with a major change, who feel overwhelmed, frustrated, helpless, or who are learning how to parent children with a variety of diagnoses.
How would you describe your approach?
My approach is based on client-led coaching and therapeutic parenting. I believe in keeping a vision of the whole picture: the parent, the children, the community they are in, the external pressures, and how those all affect each other. I offer parents a time to learn and receive encouragement and support, and help them to create a realistic vision of what they want their family to be, and how to achieve that. If families are in crisis mode, I provide them with survival strategies, support, resources, and steps forward out of crisis.
Therapeutic parenting is parenting in a highly structured, highly nurturing way. It provides firm boundaries tempered with empathy and compassion; it means not taking your child’s behaviour personally, but understanding the behaviour’s root causes. This form of intensive parenting is often a key to progress in dealing with children who have trauma and attachment challenges.
Therapeutic parenting in action can look very different for each family and each situation, and is often counter cultural. This approach can sometimes look, to an outsider, like too much leniency or overly firm boundaries. Therapeutic parenting could mean the parent calmly offering food to a child who has just hurt someone or acted disrespectfully, because the parent suspects he is hungry.
Once he has calmed down, it could then mean walking him through fixing his mistake with a “redo,” something that will likely have a more lasting impact than dealing with the issue when the child is disregulated. The fundamentals are that the parent is tailoring the response towards the child in order to best facilitate his healing.
Can you talk about trauma and attachment?
This is a huge topic that is not easily answered! At the very least, I think parents should know that trauma and attachment issues have an impact on the nervous system and brain development. These issues can affect every aspect of a child’s life, from their daily functioning, relationships, and academics, to their overall development and growth. Their responses are often reactive, based in flight, fight, or freeze. Once we know that a child may have trauma or attachment challenges, there are many things we can do to help meet his or her needs.
What are the most important things a parent can do to help their hurting child?
One of the most important things I think we can do as parents is focus on maintaining connection with our children. When dealing with a child who is acting out, this can be one of the most difficult things to achieve. However, the rewards are incredible for both children and parents. Another important thing is creating a support network for both your child and the rest of the family. This can include professionals, family and friends, community support, and more. You and your child will need your team! My parenting strategies include self-care, quiet time, and exercise. I know this sounds basic, but they are key to survival.
Self-care is anything that parents and caregivers do that gives them energy to continue parenting. I always advise scheduling time for self-care, even if life only allows for five minutes locked in the bathroom, a stolen moment with a cup of tea, calling a friend, or turning on music.
Quiet time in my house means I send my children to four separate spots in the house with a quiet activity such as audio books, special alone time toys, chewing gum, or a lollipop with a book to look at, sensory toys, or children’s yoga.
Exercise has become as important as therapy in our family. Figure out each person’s most effective physical outlet and schedule that in! Parents need the physical release of exercise, too. Great options include running or walking, rock climbing, martial arts, yoga, or using a rebounder.
Tova Krause Grindlay is a Certified Professional Coach with a specialization in Parent Coaching and is also an HIV Adoption Educator. Tova has four children, both biological and adoptive. She believes that in fixing our mistakes, we have the opportunity to model to our children some of the greatest lessons. Her website is www.wellnessvancouver.ca.