The obvious answer to this question is: ‘Are there really ten things?  Ten? What about love?  Love is the answer to truly connecting to my children…..isn’t it?’

Is love really enough?

How do your children even know that you love them even though you know that you do?  Most children who come to me for coaching are looking for more of something – self confidence, self esteem, happiness, self awareness, calm and some of them want less of something – overwhelming emotions like anger, sadness, jealousy, stress or anxiety.

My job of course is not to give or take away.  My job is very different.  Here are the ingredients I use to create rapport with children during my coaching sessions and ones which I think need to be found on every parents’ to do list:-

1.  Empathy

I don’t have to agree with it or have an opinion on it.  I just let the child have their say.  I nod my head a lot and show them I have understood.  I try to see the world from the way they see it.  I put myself in their shoes as best I can.  I recognise that they see the world differently to me.  If they see a situation in a way that doesn’t serve them, I reframe it in a more positive way. 

2.  Understanding & Acceptance

Let them be little.  Let them be who they are with their out of control emotions, their quirky little ways and their view of the world. Remember they are not yet adults and do have the wealth of knowledge and experience that we have.  Guide them and show them the way.  If they fall or get it wrong, help them dust themselves down and learn from it.  Love them for who they are and not what you wish they were.  Or who you wished you were even!

3.  Praise

Remind them of what they are good at.  You are their mirror and you show them who they are.  If all they hear is ‘Why do you always…..Stop doing that….Don’t pull that face…..Why do you forget everything…….Stop being silly / lazy / annoying.’

Find positive ways to tell them what you want them to do:

  • Please remember to…..
  • I need you to 
  • I would like you to……
  • I expect to see you doing……
  • It’s more helpful when you………  
  • In this family, we do it this way

Of course it’s never about the child, always about the behaviour.  For every time we criticise, it’s a reminder for us to find the stuff that they do which is positive / uplifting / kind / thoughtful.  It really is about the little things.  Find it and tell them as often as you can. If you are highly critical of yourself, then it is likely you will be of your children too.  The same if you have high standards.  Learn to pick your battles: what is important and what you can let go of.

4.  Encouragement

If a child tells me they can’t do something, I find a way that works for them which means they can.  You have to show them that you have the faith in their ability to do something.  If you can show them that then they learn to believe in themselves. Quite a natural reaction when your child wants to try something new is to manage their disappointments or expectations  Or maybe you are fearful and you point out what they need to be careful of. Share their enthusiasm.  Let them know you know they can do it and watch their self belief increase.  The more times they see themselves succeeding and trying new things, the more their self confidence will increase. It’s also important to be self aware and recognise what are you like when you are stepping outside of your comfort zone.

rolling hills5. Space & Time

They need this to work through life’s little problems for themselves.  It will help foster independence if you just allow them the time and space to reach their own conclusions.  Listen without judgement when they tell you that Harry hit him first and he didn’t mean to punch him back.  Listen and acknowledge.  Label feelings and nod a lot.  Smile even.  ‘So Harry hit you and you punched him back? You must have been really cross with him?’  Don’t feel the need to speak to Harry’s parents straight away or share with the school.  Keep an eye on it and let your child discover what is right for them.  As hard as it is, they often need to experience some hardships to learn the lesson.

6. Fun & Laughter

In the daily routine and stress that life can bring (particularly when we are back at school), we need to inject fun and laughter into our lives.  It is also a great way to diffuse moods, conflict and anger.  Make them laugh!  Laugh often and laugh loud.

7. Quality Time

In my coaching room, a child will get 50 minutes exclusively for them.  They don’t have to share. They don’t have to wait their turn.  They can simply be.  That is a huge.  I’m totally present in the moment. There is no TV or radio.  No iPhone or iPad.  There is just us two and that is the way kids like it. Not forgetting a big pad to scribble on a pencil case full of Sharpie pens. To have a safe space where they can be themselves allows them to explore who they are.

8. Consistency

When a no is a no, it needs to be a no on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and every day of the week.  We are told that children like routine.  They do. They like to know what is coming next as it helps them to feel safe.  Feeling safe is very important.  Even more so if you have an anxious child.  If your child is of an anxious nature, they will need lots of explanations, warnings and reassurance.  They will also need you to be consistent with them as often as possible (you are a human not a robot and will have off days but it’s how you mop up afterwards that really counts).  This way they will get to know how you are and they will be able to trust you.  Consequently, they will be able to trust others as your trusting, unique bond with them will form their blueprint for attaching to others throughout their life.

9. Gratitude

Teach your children to see and love what they have in their life.  Children are constantly wanting.  They don’t appreciate what is already here.  They have so much stuff that they don’t know what to do with it.  When we can be grateful for the the little things in life like a yummy supper, a hug from somebody we love, a warm bubble bath, pretty flowers, a sunny day, family together time, freshly washed sheets, a lie in.  You get the idea. The ‘Aren’t we lucky?’ and ‘Isn’t it wonderful?’ way of looking at life is sure to teach them how to live in the now.

10. Relaxation 

If you are rushing around and your bottom never touches a chair.  If you never put your feet up to drink that cup of tea before it goes cold (how many times did you ping it in the microwave?!), you are not looking after yourself.  Your children, who watch everything you do, will think that is the right thing to do.  They will also let you do everything for them which means they will grow up relying on you very heavily.  Then you will definitely not get the chance to relax.  Find time as a family to quieten yourselves and your minds.  Bath time, bed time or sofa time.  Make it a family ritual or a tradition.  Whatever it is that keeps you busy can wait.

Of course all these things come from love and so a sprinkle of love in all that we do is most certainly the answer.  In fact, let’s be generous.  Pour love into your kids and watch them grow.

What do you think needs to be found on your parenting To Do List?  Share your thoughts with us here in the comments box below.


Images © pixelrobot – and © Igor Yaruta –

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