By Vaibhav Datar
Times have changed. If you are like me, a 40-something, you remember how childhood used to be. We were the lucky ones to have seen parents who had small needs, generally satisfied at work and loved to enjoy life. We went to restaurants once a month. Watching movies was so much fun and we really cherished relationships.
Today, kids are under tremendous pressure to perform. During our times, passing with distinction meant we were really good in academics and in case, we got into a good engineering or medical college, our life was set. Not anymore. Passing with distinction is a necessity, since you are just one among the millions out there. There is huge competition and everyone is part of a rat race.
We are not happy with the house we have or the car we drive. We are not happy with our work and we are left wanting for more. Our kids have their own aspirations and requests. They want it all and they want it now. As so-called loving, caring and new age parents, we fall into the honey trap and out of love, we give them what they want, irrespective of whether it makes sense or not.
Kids can also get into emotional turmoil. They may have a troubled relationship with fellow kids, who may either tease or demean them. Kids can develop very low self-esteem over time. As a parent, we need to take time to understand them and life coaching skills can really come in handy.
One of the top skills any life coach possesses is the ability to listen. Listening is a gift that you give a speaker. There are times when we speak even before the child has stopped talking about his problem. We think we already know the issue and since the child has approached us, it is our responsibility to help and give solutions. Unfortunately, that is never the case. The kid is talking to you, since you are closest to his heart and possibly the only person he knows, who will understand his challenges.
The best thing we can do is to listen to our kids. We can listen to the spoken and unspoken words. We can listen to the words behind the words. We can feel what the kid is feeling within. We can go within and when we do that, we have exhibited another skill, the skill of silence.
It is said that when two evolved souls meet, they hardly speak. In fact, they don’t speak at all. They are silent as they know there is no need to speak. There is no need to impress or express. Silence is the highest form of consciousness and when we approach kids with silence, they understand better. Silence gives the kids a chance to go within. As they speak, they understand themselves and the situation better. They understand where they are going wrong and what they need to do. Silence is the biggest weapon a parent has. A parent speaks only when they need to, else they choose to remain silent.
So now, when you speak, your voice could be meak or harsh or assertive or stern. This is another coaching skill, which we as parents have to learn.
One thing, all kids are wary of are their parent’s voice. They know from the tone of voice, whether their parents are happy or sad, angry or joyful. Kids are super natural intelligent beings. They know how to manipulate their parents to get what they want. They also know the exact trigger buttons to press, to make their mother frown. They use these weapons intelligently.
So when things are not put in place after coming back from school or the lights are not switched off, while leaving the room even after repeated reminders, the parents usually react either with a high volume stern tone or with an extended “please”.
Neither is required in such scenarios. A stern but good tone with no “please” should do the job. “Keep the shoes in rack”. Just a few lines like these would seal it for us, but we end up giving long winding explanations. We start questioning our children and here is the last skill to learn.
So what we need are these basic skills of life coaching when dealing with kids. Happy coaching your kids!
(The writer is a midlife coach and author of Simplify Your Life.)